Abstract 99. Jahrestagung der DOG, 29. 9. - 2. 10. 01 im ICC, Berlin

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Eye care project for Eritrea

Belger H.-J.

Augenklinik Ahaus

When one contemplates the limited human and material resources available as compared to the need in the Third World one concludes that any help undertaken should be exceptionally efficient. Firstly general guidelines will be given, which in terms of the worldwide initiative VISION 2020 have for a goal the reduction of preventable blindness. The prerequisites include: Cooperative partners in the host country, a favorable cost-effectiveness ratio, help tailored to local conditions, ad as an especially important factor the continuity of help. This can take the form of long-term involvement or repeated short-term missions with the help of partners eg. NGO s. After securing a basic set up the training of colleagues at selected centers in the developing country by active collaboration should take precedence. I have worked using these guidelines since 1995 in Eritrea, one of the poorest developing countries, with 3 ophthalmologists for 4.1 million inhabitants. The chief causes of blindness there are similar to those found elsewhere in the Third World: cataract and corneal blindness. With the organisational support of the Hammer Forum e.V., a helping organisation for children in war and crisis zones, nearly 500 operations have been performed and approximately 2.100 patients examined. 69 patients have been brought to Germany for free treatment, most of them to the Augenklinik Ahaus. In equipping the operative sector the introduction of laser treatment of retinal diseases with a solid-state laser was a special advance for the entire region. This laser project was made possible by the donations of regional Rotary Clubs and Rotary International. Unfortunately there remains a great deal of preventable blindness eg. as a result of corneal scaring and retinal detachment. For the continued success of the eye care project for Eritrea in addition to continuing planned visits further motivated and experienced colleagues are above all required.

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