JUL 20, 2009
Two American ophthalmologists, Michael W. Belin, MD, and Peter Zloty, MD, in conjunction with the East Timor Eye Program (ETEP) recently performed the first corneal transplants in East Timor. Nitin Verma, MD, began ETEP in 2001 to help deliver national eye-care services to the impoverished country still suffering the after effects of a decades-long independence struggle against Indonesia.
ETEP is part of the health care delivery system run by the Royal Austalasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and endorsed by the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO).
Drs. Belin and Zloty performed three full-thickness corneal transplants in addition to other anterior segment surgery. In addition to support from RACS, the surgeries were partially supported by the Albany Lions Eye Bank / North Eastern New York Sight Society and the Alabama Eye Bank. The American Academy of Ophthalmology provided educational materials - the Basic Clinical Science Course series and several editions of Focal Points - to the local physicians. Belin and Zloty plan a second mission later this year in conjunction with the RANZCO Annual meeting. Their goal is to provide corneal subspecialty care and to train the local physicians to care for and treat corneal disease. ETEP hopes to make East Timor self-sufficient in the provision of eye care by 2015.