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Working together in Myanmar

September 7, 2017


This year Eye and Ear ophthalmologist Dr Ben Clark led a specialist eye care team on a weeklong clinical and teaching trip to the Wachet township near Mandalay, Myanmar.

The team was made up of retinal surgeons Dr Mark McCombe, Dr Ed Roufail and Dr David Fabinyi, theatre nurse Jasmin Fitzgerald and registrar Rod O’Day. The team went as part of the Myanmar Eye Care Program, which is coordinated by Sydney-based Dr Geoff Cohn and Dr Kwon Kang.

Myanmar has only 10 local retinal surgeons who provide eye care to the population of over 60 million people. In one week, Dr Clark’s team supported 660 outpatient appointments and 190 operations, including 100 retinal procedures and 90 cataract surgeries. Diabetic retinopathy, chronic retinal detachments and extensive retinal vasculitis were the most common conditions.

Extensive training was also given to the dedicated Myanmarese staff. Two local retinal surgeons performed many surgeries under supervision while registrars administered outpatient clinics. Afternoon lectures were given on issues ranging from sterilising equipment to anticipating surgeons’ needs.

Planning for the next trip to visit our friends in Myanmar has already begun. Dr Clark and Dr McCombe have secured two retinal microscopes which will be a big improvement on those currently used by the hospital staff in Mandalay.