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Presentation at the Royal College of Ophthalmologists Annual Congress May 2010

David Laws, Ophthalmologist and Suzanne Martin, Orthoptist of the Swansea steering committee were invited to make a presentation about the link at the Royal College Congress which was held at the Arena and Convention Centre, Liverpool, England.

The presentations were part of a session, on May 25th which was entitled “International Ophthalmology Vision 2020 Links”. It was chaired by Mr. Nick Astbury, Consultant Ophthalmologist from Norwich and Miss Marcia Zondervan of the International Centre for Eye Health.

Marcia opened the session by describing the Vision 2020 links programme, how links started and the benefits to both partner countries. She encouraged delegates to volunteer to form new links as there were still many countries without partners in the UK.

Suzanne spoke next by giving an overview of The Gambia-Swansea link describing how the link was started and how it had evolved over the last two years. She stated how money had been raised through grant applications, donations and fund raising events. Also how awareness of the link had been raised through the development of a website and by giving talks to charitable organisations such as Rotary and The Women’s Institute.

She then used examples gathered from a questionnaire which had been distributed to both steering committees to illustrate achievements made by the link and the benefits of the partnership. Suzanne concluded by describing barriers encountered by both countries such as problems with communication and delays in obtaining visas.

David Laws talk, which followed, complemented Suzanne’s by giving an account of how a small amount of money raised by running a quiz night had funded a medical physics technician, Paul Lawrance to visit The Gambia in November 2009. During Paul’s visit he worked alongside Mr. Cham, his counterpart at the Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Centre. They then travelled up country to the various cataract centres so Paul could view the equipment used and to advise on repair and maintenance.

David then illustrated how careful planning made the visit a success as photographs of all equipment had been taken by a colleague, Stella Elliott on a previous visit. By noting the serial numbers and contacting those who serviced the equipment Paul Lawrance was able to work out what was wrong and take spare parts out with him. Thus vital instruments were immediately repaired and became fully functional again.

The session concluded with two interesting talks from members of other links, Makassar and Dundee and Club Jules Gonin and Swaziland. After a question and answer session Nick and Marcia expressed their thanks to all who had participated in a very interesting presentation.

Suzanne Martin, May 2010

Click here to view the presentation

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