Two surgical fellowships

April 29, 2009

The training component of the Mercy Vision programme, onboard the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship, is to receive $50,000 from the Alcon Foundation.

The training component of the Mercy Vision programme, onboard the world's largest non-governmental hospital ship, is to receive $50,000 from the Alcon Foundation.

Funding covers expenses for the Mercy Ships Alcon Fellowship - two three-month surgical fellowships for expatriate or national West African surgeons onboard the hospital ship in Cotonou, Benin, West Africa. The fellowship will offer training in advanced cataract techniques and will complement additional training done with community eye workers and local eye surgeons to help build capacity during the ship's 10-month port visit.

According to Dr. Glenn Strauss, chief of Ophthalmology Service and Senior VP of Strategic Health Care for Mercy Ships, patients in Africa often develop more dense and severe cataracts due to the frequency of eye trauma, the intensity of the sun's rays along the equator, nutritional issues, and lack of access to ophthalmic intervention. Surgeons need to understand all of the techniques available to them and how they can provide the most affordable quality care in the areas they are working in.

“We believe that teaching these techniques contributes to a sustainable solution to eye care needs in Africa because they are suited to local patients,” said Strauss, who began training the first fellowship grantee from Gabon this month. The fellowship training will also emphasize whole-patient care concepts, developing the trainees' skills to meet the variety of challenges they will experience as future leaders in eye care.

Alcon has partnered witth Mercy Ships since the charity's inception 30 years ago. Since 1997 Alcon has donated more than $5.6 million worth of equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals to support Mercy Ships efforts to address preventable blindness.

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