Projects Update - November 2017

Myanmar Neuro-Ophthalmology Fellowship

Sight For All’s Neuro-Ophthalmology Fellowship conducted between October 2016 – October 2017 was the first reverse fellowship undertaken in Myanmar, with prior fellowships being conducted in Australia. Three fellows were selected to participate, from three teaching hospitals across Myanmar. They were Dr Yin Nwe Win, Dr Mon Mon Yi and Dr Aye Kyaw Maung.

The Myanmar Neuro-Ophthalmology Fellowship involved 12 ophthalmologists and neurologists travelling to Yangon Eye Hospital to spend one week in-country teaching a specific topic. Adelaide based Professor John Crompton was the Project Lead Visionary and conducted the final week of teaching that also included the final assessment of the three fellows. As a result of their advanced teaching, the three fellows passed the assessment with flying colours and are now Neuro-Ophthalmology specialists, treating patients all over the country.

Director of Yangon Eye Hospital, Professor Tin Win commented on the fellowship by saying:
“Sight For All conducted 12 months neuro-ophthalmology in country fellowship program in Yangon Eye Hospital from October 2016 – October 2017. 
Three Myanmar ophthalmologists from various medical universities completed successfully. Professor John Crompton award fellowship certificates to these 3 Myanmar ophthalmologists today. I found this reverse fellowship program is very useful for Myanmar.”

The Myanmar Neuro-Ophthalmology Fellowship was made possible through the generous support of the Geok Hua Wong Charitable Trust, our collaborative partnership with the Yangon Eye Hospital and the donation of hundreds of hours of teaching by Sight For All’s Visionaries.

Myanmar Projects Made Possible Through The Support Of The Australian Government

As a result of our DFAT accreditation earlier this year, we were able to commence two new and exciting projects in Myanmar.  The first project is called the Clinical Upskilling of Refractionists Project which involves training nine refractionists from five hospitals across Myanmar to diagnose and treat patients with ophthalmic diseases. Uncorrective refractive errors is the second leading cause of visual impairment in Myanmar and people remain largely untreated reducing education and employment opportunities and consequently increasing poverty. To address this issue, the Upskilling Refractionists Project involves 12 teaching visits for one week each month by Australian ophthalmologists. So far 5 visits have been undertaken, with six more before the end of the financial year. These teaching visits form the first phase of the project, with the second phase being that the nine optometrists trained going on to train their own optometrists, with ongoing support from Sight For All. 

The second project is the Eye Health Workers Upskilling and Equipment Upgrade of Secondary Eye Centres Project. There are 83 Secondary Eye Care Centres across Myanmar, usually attached to a district or hospital township. Between 2007 and 2013, the Vision Myanmar Program (which led to the development of Sight For All) enabled the training of doctors and equipping of over 32 Secondary Eye Centres, ensuring that the doctors had the knowledge and basic equipment to diagnose and treat eye diseases. 

This project involves revisiting 25 of the 32 Secondary Eye Centres already equipped where qualitative and quantitative data about the provision of eye health services is being collected. As part of each visit, the centres will be upgraded with additional instruments for the diagnosis and treatment of more complex eye diseases such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. The project is being delivered through six visits conducted by six ophthalmologists over the 12 month period.

Training Opportunities in Australia

Throughout 2017 we have been delighted to be able to conduct some training in Australia. In March we welcomed A/Prof Than Htun Aung, and Ms Thinn Thinn Swe from Myanmar and then in September Dr Sok Kheng and Mr Kith Koeung from Cambodia. 

Both A/Prof Aung and Dr Kheng are paediatric ophthalmologists trained by Sight For All. All four colleagues spent four weeks in Adelaide undertaking a low vision course funded by Sight For All and provided by the Royal Society for the Blind (RSB) and the South Australian School for Vision Impaired (SASVI). 

As a result of the course, A/Prof Aung, Ms Swe, Dr Kheng and Mr Koeung have returned to their home countries to assist people with low vision. The course included training with the RSB’s experienced team and visiting various schools for vision impaired across Adelaide, to learn first-hand how children are benefiting from specialised tools and equipment. 

Following her four-week low vision training course in Adelaide, Dr Kheng from Cambodia travelled to Sydney to undertake a two-month intensive paediatric observership with Dr Craig Donaldson and Dr Michael Jones at The Sydney Children’s Hospital at Westmead and a week of training in the optometry clinic with Mr Richard Lindsay in Melbourne.

In September, we farewelled Dr Aye Moe Htet who returned home to Myanmar after spending 12-months in Australia undertaking an anterior segment fellowship. Much of the fellowship was undertaken at the Royal Adelaide Hospital with Sight For All Visionary, Dr Mark Chehade. In addition, Dr Htet was provided with an opportunity to spend six weeks at the Sydney Eye Hospital undertaking a corneal observership with Professor Gerard Sutton. 

We are incredibly grateful to the Sight For All Visionaries involved with these fellowships and observerships to make the experience for our colleagues so valuable.