The talk was given by Dave Goldsmith on Fighting Blindness in Bolivia.
Dave and his skilled team, Andean Medical Mission (AMM), spend a period of a month each year travelling to Bolivia and visiting remote parts to eliminate or reduce the effects of blindness.
The AMM plan includes: alignment with Bolivia from a political stance; registration of AMM as a Bolivian Foundation; involvement in Bolivian Ophthalmology training; develop our relationship with the Bolivian Ophthalmology Society; identify new towns and villages where AMM can work this year and beyond; explore the opportunity to help a Bolivian Ophthalmologist.
Map showing northern Bolivia and the towns that AMM have worked in together with the location of current Bolivian eye care services.
More than 100,000 are needed for Bolivia. In El Beni, if 80% of blindness is assumed to be treatable then it is estimated that there are 9000 operations needed to bring blindness down to 1 %. Additionally there are patients who are not blind yet but will become so. Therefore services need to run at a level that reduces the current blindness and copes with the volume of newly blind patients that present, as well. In El Beni the capacity of the Bolivian eye services runs at about 200 operations a year all done in Trinidad. AMM performs another 200 operations per year on top of this. At these levels, the number of blind is not decreasing quickly enough, despite all of the best efforts.
Therefore this year’s priorities were to establish and equip the ophthalmologist in San Borja to add to the number of patients that can be treated by Bolivian services throughout the year and for AMM to access new and larger towns to treat a greater volume of patients during the visit. AMM want to do this without forgetting the many people who are relying on AMM from the villages and towns that are normally attended.
The team arriving in Bolivia.
The team in San Borja operating theatre.
Patients waiting to be seen in San Ignacio.
Patients being examined and exercised after surgery.
Over the whole trip the teams screened 2000 patients, operated on 220 blind or nearly blind patients and carried out lots of teaching and set up one ophthalmology centre in San Borja serving 49,000 people. Not bad at all.
A more detailed report on the trips to Bolivia can be found on the AMM Website: