The keynote speaker was Mr. RD Thulasiraj (“Thulsi”), executive director of the Aravind Eye System, the largest provider of eye care in India. He stunned the audience by saying that Aravind performs over 350,000 surgical procedures per year! Each cataract procedure takes less than 10 minutes. The secret is an efficient throughput. All surgeons are taught the same technique. While one patient is having an extraction, the next patient is prepared on an adjacent bed. When the surgeon finishes the job, he or she moves the microscope over to the waiting patient. The System makes its own intraocular lenses at extremely low cost and trains its own mid-level providers to undertake all non-medical tasks.
Juan Caceres, a second-year U-M medical student, described his medical adventures in the South Pacific on the islands of Vanuatu. These islands have a high prevalence of beta thalassemia, a blood disorder that causes extreme fatigue and early death. His main job was to survey islanders on their understanding of this endemic disease, but he also found time to assist in eye surgery and in the delivery of babies.
Mark Prince, MD, chair of Otolaryngology at U-M, told the audience how his department was able to develop a robust collaborative education initiative with the department of Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana.
Philip Garza, MD, second year resident in Ophthalmology at Kellogg, reported on his assessment of the 4-year-old ophthalmology residency training program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa, a collaboration between Kellogg and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. Dr. Garza’s interviews of the residents and faculty led him to conclude that the program has made remarkable progress in curriculum and infrastructure. The first graduation of residents will occur in June 2019.