Expanding to achieve VISION 2020 goals in Africa

KCMC/Tumaini University
PO Box 2254
Moshi , Tanzania
Tel: 255 27 2753547
Fax: 255 27 2753598


Expanding to achieve VISION 2020 goals in Africa


Depending on definitions, there are between 35 and 50 million blind in the world and 3 times this many with visual impairment. Ninety percent of these people live in poor countries, where lack or inefficient use of resources contributes to a cycle of poverty and ill health.

Fortunately, there are solutions; current medical knowledge includes practical cures or simple prevention for 75% of the world’s blindness. Getting these solutions out to poor rural communities where the blind live is one of the big challenges of VISION 2020.

The Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) in collaboration with the KCMC Hospital Eye Department and the Tumaini University, in Moshi, Tanzania is committed to becoming the premier training and service centre dedicated to helping sub-Saharan African countries reach VISION 2020 goals.

KCCO was established and joined forces with the KCMC Eye Department in October 2001. A combination of factors puts KCCO/KCMC in a unique position to lead prevention of blindness in Africa:

  • We are located in Africa and dedicated to serving and building capacity within Africa.
  • The expertise and infrastructure within the KCCO/KCMC Eye Department allow it to offer an integrated combination of training, research and service. We are not solely a hospital service, a community based service a training programme, or a research institute; rather, we have integrated field and hospital services and academic programmes. We offer a unique opportunity to provide training and service while studying practical operational issues. This allows us to explore and demonstrate high quality models of service delivery that will be replicable in Africa.
  • KCCO/KCMC has links with international eye care NGOs and many eye care professionals throughout Africa. We enjoy a network of connections with leading international training and academic institutions; the permanent and visiting faculty includes professionals from throughout eastern and southern Africa, Europe, Asia and North America.

Since KCCO was established, many service programmes have grown or been established, not only in Kilimanjaro Region, but in other Regions of Tanzania. These include special pediatric services and services to provide comprehensive eye care and surgery for the rural poor. The number of surgeries performed at KCMC has tripled and Kilimanjaro Region now has the highest cataract surgical rate in Tanzania. We have demonstrated that the implementation of good management practices can allow such an increase with only a small increase in hospital staff. Using the Kilimanjaro experience as a model to learn from, KCCO is now extending the model to other Regions of Tanzania and other places in eastern Africa. Our courses include a unique emphasis on management as a key critical skill to train prevention of blindness managers and clinical staff. Meanwhile, the number of ophthalmology residents in training at KCMC/KCCO has increased from 4 to 10, we have 6 cataract surgeons in training, and the first African vitreoretinal surgeons have been trained. The Ophthalmic Resources Centre for Eastern Africa (ORCEA) at KCCO provides the largest up-to-date collection of modern clinical and public health ophthalmology books and journals in eastern Africa as well as postal and email links to most eye care providers in eastern Africa.

The remarkable growth of KCCO and MCMC Eye Department is rewarding and exciting, but it also means that we have outgrown our original physical space. Currently, we rent space at local halls for courses, which is expensive and inconvenient. Planning meetings, regular teaching sessions for students, and student study activities compete for the one room available for these purposes. The ORCEA is so crowded that we sometimes have to ration its use among the various groups who use it. The small operating theatre (once more than adequate and only used 2 days per week up until 2002) is limiting the number of surgeries we can perform and the training of new surgeons and nurses.

KCCO ground floor May 2006web

Therefore we propose to build and equip an expansion of the current facility. We will take advantage of the existing outpatient department and ward, while adding a new operating theatre and training space. The extension comprises a 3-story structure (480 sq m per floor) integrated with the existing Eye Department/KCCO. The ground and second floors will contain training, meeting and study rooms, and a new ORCEA. The first floor (connected to the existing ward) will house a new operating theatre to provide for expanding service delivery and training. The cost of building and equipping this extension is estimated at US$1,062,462

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