Since early 2017, the Eye Care Foundation has supported the eye care department in Macha, a village situated in the southern province of Zambia. The province has approximately two million inhabitants and it now has two opthalmologists, counting the eye doctor in Macha. There has been a mission hospital in Macha since 1957. The hospital has a good reputation and people from far and wide travel to Macha to be treated there.
The hospital has had a small eye department for years but it could only treat eye infections and allergic reactions due to its limited capacity.
In Zambia eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma are common. Patients with an eye trauma or an eye tumour are also a regular occurrence. The eye department is in desperate need of expansion. Dutch ophthalmologist Samuel Verkerk and his wife Tamara Verkerk, who is an optometrist, have joined the eye department for a number of years to lend their much needed support. In addition, preparations are underway to build an eye clinic on the hospital grounds.
Training courses and internships
In 2017 a Zambian clinical officer enrolled in a post-bachelor eye care training programme. In 2019 he will take over as head of the eye care department. He will not be an ophthalmologist but, after completing his studies, he will be able to perform cataract surgeries.
In addition, three nurses are being trained to become ophthalmic nurses. They will perform initial eye examinations and assist with the surgeries. They are currently interns for three days a week at the eye department to gain on-the-job experience.
By investing in training courses for local professionals, eye care in Macha is being structurally improved.
The eye team regularly travels to remote villages in the region to perform eye tests. Whenever possible, those diagnosed with an eye condition are treated on location or are otherwise referred to the hospital for further tests and treatment.