Treating glaucoma in Côte d’Ivoire
This project is a 2020 recipient of grant funding from the Royal College’s new International Development, Aid and Collaboration (IDAC) program. This grant supports projects that improve health profession education and local capacity in low- and middle-income countries.
Glaucoma is the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness. It is especially prevalent among populations in West Africa. A strong partnership between the University of Laval’s Department of Ophthalmology and a leading African ophthalmologist has led to a major effort to improve glaucoma care in Côte d’Ivoire.
The project — co-led by the University of Laval’s Andrew Toren, MD, FRCSC, and Jérémie Agré, MD, an ophthalmologist from Côte d’Ivoire — has two distinct aspects:
- it will develop human resources and curriculum to train ophthalmologists and allied health care staff in glaucoma care; and
- it will create regional sites that provide glaucoma care and screening, with the eventual establishment of a regional centre of excellence for glaucoma.
“At present, many people in this region are presenting with advanced glaucoma, which requires surgery,” said Dr. Toren. “But very few ophthalmologists in Côte d’Ivoire are comfortable performing glaucoma surgery.”
Working with local ophthalmologists and local and international non-governmental organizations, the project will use curriculum and hands-on training that will enable more ophthalmologists to treat glaucoma.
From evaluation to excellence
Dr. Toren’s work begins this year with an onsite evaluation for potential centres of excellence and the introduction of an initial training plan for local glaucoma specialists. Funded in part by the Royal College’s IDAC program, the project will continue until the fall of 2022, when the planned centre of excellence will open.
“The impact will happen in stages,” said Dr. Toren. “We anticipate that people will get operated on and benefit as soon as our project begins. We hope over the long term that effective training and the establishment of a centre of excellence will give rise to sustained glaucoma care across Côte d’Ivoire.”
Achievable, repeatable solutions
For fall 2020, Dr. Toren and Dr. Agré are looking to train four ophthalmologists working in four different centres across the country. Future plans depend on how well the project develops and how much capacity the partners can build in the training sites. “For now, we’re looking at doing things that are achievable and repeatable,” said Dr. Toren.
Due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions, a number of project activities originally planned for earlier this year have been delayed. Some activities have since restarted, while others are waiting for an appropriate and safe time to resume.