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Seychelles implementing a five-year strategy to localise all eye surgeries

Victoria, Seychelles | September 14, 2018, Friday @ 10:17 in National » HEALTH | By: Sharon Ernesta | Views: 2810
Seychelles implementing a five-year strategy to localise all eye surgeries

This week the ministry opened its first surgical service on the island nation. (Patrick Joubert) 

Photo license  

(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles’ health ministry is implementing a five-year strategy to localise all eye surgeries. This is made possible through a partnership the ministry has with the Teaching Eye Surgery Foundation, which is based in Switzerland.

This week the ministry opened its first surgical service on the island nation. Vitreoretinal surgery involves surgical procedures on the retina at the back of the eye.

Jean-Paul Adam, the minister for health, told journalists on Wednesday that with this latest development, the country is on track with its vision to domesticate all eye surgeries in five years’ time.

“The Teaching Eye Surgery Foundation is not only assisting us with a donation of medical equipment but also in terms of training to build the capacity of staff at the unit. We have a long-term partnership with the foundation which has made it possible for us to be able to conduct the vitreoretinal surgery locally,” said Adam.

The minister also commended the dedication and work of Professor Cyrus Tabatabay, the founder and president of Teaching Eye Surgery Foundation who this month undertook his third consultative visit to the Ophthalmology Unit at Seychelles Hospital. It was in 2016 that the ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the foundation.

The professor normally makes two visits per year to Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. During his latest visit, Tabatabay assisted to set up the service as well as with the first four procedures.

Roland Barbe, the consultant in charge of the Ophthalmology Unit at Seychelles Hospital, said that the vitreoretinal operations “will address the large number of diabetic patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy who need this service. At present all patients in need of such interventions are sent for treatment to India or Sri Lanka.”

“This is a lengthy and delicate process. In the long term, we intend to do most vitreoretinal surgical cases in Seychelles. Only the most complex cases will be referred for overseas treatment," explained Barbe.

Tabatabay said his visits "will ensure the continuity and sustainability of the new service as well as ensuring good practice and high quality of the procedure.  The foundation has also donated consumables and equipment.”

The equipment donation includes a state-of-the-art Optos machine, which takes photos which can show a large format of the retina and for close-up analysis results available in just 30 seconds as compared to other machines which take more than 10 minutes.

A state-of-the-art Optos machine donated to the Ophthalmology Unit at Seychelles Hospital. (Patrick Joubert) Photo License: CC-BY 

The professor who is using his rich know-how to transfer best surgical skills and practices to local doctors said that “the ophthalmology unit, under the guidance of Dr Barbé, has excelled in mastering cataract surgery and now with the introduction and adaptation the new VR service, the unit will be self-sufficient in five years from now.”

He added that with guidance the Seychelles is now operating at the same level and standard being used at this new service is the same as what is being offered in Switzerland.

The minister for health, Adam, said that this corporation with Teaching Eye Surgery Foundation will reinforce further as the ministry is pushing to bring higher quality eye care in Seychelles.

“This is reinforcing the capacity that we have in Seychelles for offering good quality care for people with eye problems. This has opened the door to localise more new procedures in terms of retina treatment and corneal transplant, which we hope to be doing in five years’ time with the support of Professor Tabatabay and his team,” said the minister.

Apart from working with the Seychelles, the Teaching Eye Surgery Foundation is also building the capacity of neighbouring Mauritius and Rodrigues islands in the field of eye surgery. 

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Tags: Teaching Eye Surgery Foundation, Ophthalmology Unit

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