Diabetes specialists from Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust have taken their expertise to Ethiopia in a bid to help reduce cases of sight threatening diabetic retinopathy, a common complication from the condition that can eventually lead to blindness.
Having established the first diabetic retinopathy screening clinics at the Black Lions Diabetes Centre in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa back in 2006, the team has since trained 40 healthcare professionals in Ethiopia to help run the programme, working with the Ethiopian Diabetes Association (EDA) raised enough money to purchase five digital cameras and two Pascal lasers. With a population of 90 million, Ethiopia is seeing a steady increasing number of diabetic patients since the service began.
Thanks to the help of staff at the Trust, the Ethiopian Eye Screening Programme has now secured funding from the Ethiopian Diabetes Association and World Diabetes Foundation. As long as screening and treatment targets continue to be met, there are plans for the service to be extended to new sites across the country in the future.
Paul Galsworthy, joint programme manager at Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country Diabetic Eye Screening Programme, said: “It is a privilege to be able to help people living in a country like Ethiopia, who do not have access to the same standard of healthcare as those living in the UK. Through donations and raised funds, I have been lucky enough to visit Ethiopia five times to help set up the new digital camera technology and train staff how to use it, which is making a huge difference to the lives of people living with diabetes.
“Those with diabetes are being tested for any signs of deteriorating eye sight in a timely manner, ensuring early signs of diabetic retinopathy are detected early and managed and treated appropriately. We are proud to be sharing the experience and expertise of diabetes specialists in Birmingham and offering it to those less fortunate than us in Ethiopia.”
For more information on the Trust’s diabetes service, visit www.retinalscreening.co.uk