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Image: Dr Lisa Hamm with a child awaiting eye screening

Dr Lisa Hamm was awarded an International Central Network and Partnership Grant to explore the possibility of collaborative projects with the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) at the University of Cape Town.

KCCO currently runs childhood blindness programs throughout East Africa. The primary aim of these programs is to identify children with avoidable causes of blindness and vision impairment, and organise treatment and follow-up low vision services. A key priority of KCCO is treating childhood cataract as soon as possible, and their research concerning effective strategies to accomplish this in low-income and/or rural settings has had international impact.

Lisa recently travelled to Uganda where she worked with KCCO’s East African Childhood Blindness Coordinator and a paediatric ophthalmologist on one of their childhood blindness projects. She then visited Cape Town where she met with the directors of KCCO to discuss potential collaborative research projects. These included 1) whether some of their strategies for promoting equitable access to eye care may be useful in the New Zealand context, and 2) whether current research within the Visual Neuroscience Laboratory at SOVS might improve assessment and rehabilitation services for children with delayed removal of bilateral cataracts.

The time included teacher training and vision screening at schools for the visually impaired, as well as university and hospital visits. The visit was filled with insightful discussion and planning for future collaborative work.