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Haitian Doctors’ Struggle to Restore Eye Care is Aided by American Academy of Ophthalmology Donations and Task Force Volunteers

12/08/2010   09:00:00 AM

Ophthalmic Industry and Individual Eye M.D.s Provide Donations and Expertise

SAN FRANCISCOAt the American Academy of Ophthalmology's (Academy) recent international meeting in Chicago, the Task Force on Haiti Recovery (Task Force) received donations of ophthalmic equipment, supplies, and educational materials valued at nearly $16,000 US dollars. Essential exam tools such as slit lamps, retinoscopes, keratometers, and ophthalmoscopes have already been delivered to Haitian ophthalmologists, as well as the other materials. In its initial response to the devastating January 2010 earthquake, the Academy secured in-kind donations valued at more than one half million US dollars. (See The Academy's Haiti Recovery Efforts for details.)

The Academy's Task Force continues to work with Haitian colleagues to rebuild their practices and restore quality eye care. Together, they are turning the disaster into an opportunity to create improved, sustainable eye health services so that the Haitian people will be able to rely on Haitian Eye M.D.s rather than aid organizations for their care. Currently focused on organizational development, the top three initiatives of the Haitian Society of Ophthalmology and the Task Force are to:

  • install donated equipment, repair and rewire damaged equipment, and train Haitian biomedical technicians to keep equipment functional;
  • train and certify ophthalmic assistants so that ophthalmologists will have needed support staff; and
  • provide "mini-fellowships" in partner countries such as the US, Columbia, and India to support training in cataract surgery, pediatric ophthalmology and other top-priority eye health specialties; fellowship recipients are chosen by the Haitian Society of Ophthalmology.

The Task Force on Haiti Recovery is led by former Academy president Michael W. Brennan, MD, a military veteran with unique humanitarian experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is comprised of Academy members and works in close collaboration with the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology (PAAO) and the Joint Commission for Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO). All task force members have direct connections and experience in Haiti and/or with strategic partners in humanitarian relief. Daniel Laroche, MD, a task force member, continues to coordinate equipment and supply shipments to Haiti. Franz Large, MD, heads the Haitian Society of Ophthalmology.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
AAO is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 29,000 members worldwide.  Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit the Academy's Web site at www.aao.org.

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