SE Asia Collaboration
Current State of Eye Health in Myanmar
In Myanmar, with a population of 55 million people, 500,000 people are blind, and approximately 10% of the rural adult population suffers from blindness. The prevalence of blindness in Myanmar is the highest of any country in Southeast Asia, but 90% of the blindness in Myanmar is preventable. With proper subspecialty care and corrective surgery, this grim state of eye health can improve. Lack of subspecialty care in ophthalmology is a common, pressing public health issue worldwide in developing nations. In Myanmar, a country with great need for skilled ophthalmologists, only two cornea, one oculoplastics, one retina, and two pediatric subspecialists are providing care to the population. Currently, no training program exists to increase the number of subspecialists in ophthalmology.
Casey Eye Institute's SE Asia Collaboration
Casey Eye Institute, partnered with OHSU Global, and led by Mitch Brinks, M.D., M.P.H., is determined to bring positive change to eye care in Myanmar. After two years of preliminary evaluations and planning, Casey Eye Institute is beginning an exciting new relationship with four medical institutions in S.E. Asia. Casey Eye Institute, along with Mandalay Eye Hospital (Myanmar), monastery-led Tipitaka Eye Hospital (Myanmar), Siriraj Medical School (Thailand) and BDMS/Bangkok Hospital System (Thailand), are partnering to build a better future and brighter prognosis for the people of Myanmar. The collaboration between these organizations will include four main programs: an eye nurse aide education program, a pediatric vision health screening program, an improved health records database, and an ophthalmic specialty fellowship program.
Eye Nurse Education
The eye nurse education program will target Tipitaka Eye Hospital, a destination for many rural citizens who cannot afford medical care. The monk-led hospital works solely on charity care, with no plans to change this model. Nursing experts will assist in improving program design and educational materials, with special consideration of technical needs unique to Tipitaka. Two to four evaluation and teaching visits are planned for 2017.
Pediatric Vision Health Screening
Daniel Karr, M.D. and Allison Summers, O.D., F.A.A.O., M.C.R., are Casey's leaders working to develop and establish a pediatric eye screening program at Tipitaka Eye Hospital. Effective detection and treatment of vision problems early in life can have tremendous impact on children's physical and behavioral development. As opposed to making annual or semi-annual trips to perform pediatric eye screening, the goal is to develop a program that can be delivered by local eye nurse assistants, using resources provided by Myanmar Ministry of Health. With proper staff training and technology improvements, the eye screening program will be an essential, sustainable element toward prevention of debilitating eye conditions in Myanmar.
Ophthalmic Specialty Fellowship Program
An important element in this collaboration is the development of an oculoplastic and glaucoma subspecialty training program. John Ng, M.D. M.S., F.A.C.S., and Eric Steele, M.D., will host the first oculoplastic fellow from Myanmar Eye Hospital, Dr. Thi Thi Tin, in April 2017. Her year-long training will include six months of training at Casey Eye Institute, four months of training at Siriraj Medical Hospital in Bangkok, and two months of supervisory training back at Mandalay Eye Hospital.
Dr. Zaw Nyein Chan is also scheduled to begin his subspecialty training in glaucoma at Siriraj Medical School in April 2017. Beth Edmunds, M.D., Ph.D., will serve as Casey's Glaucoma International Fellowship Director and lead training for Dr. Zaw. His training plan will also include visits to both CEI and Siriraj Medical Hospital, with CEI supervised training at Mandalay Eye Hospital at the end of his training period.
This extensive training will be an essential initial step in capacity building--developing local talent to provide complex oculoplastic and glaucoma care to those in need in Myanmar. With successful completion of the oculoplastic and glaucoma fellowships, the hope is to extend this opportunity to other qualified junior faculty in Myanmar in order to fill the needs of additional subspecialists in pediatric, medical retina, and neuro-ophthalmology.