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HomeminewsUganda Celebrates First Optometry Graduates

Uganda Celebrates First Optometry Graduates

Pioneer optometrists have officially graduated at Makerere University in Kampala after completing the first optometry degree ratified in Uganda. The graduating optometrists are the first locally trained optometrists for their country and will act as the primary eye health carers for the population.

Uganda is one of the African countries supporting optometry as a relevant profession to help solve their nation’s growing eye care needs. Currently, there are less than 10 practicing optometrists in Uganda to service the population of 40 million, all of which received their training overseas.

Establishing the School of Optometry at Makerere University took more than ten years of intense planning, negotiations and collaboration by many dedicated partners working closely with the University. These included the Brien Holden Vision Institute, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, University of New South Wales in Australia, Optometry Giving Sight, Light for the World, and the Optometrist Association of Uganda.

Professor Charles Ibigira, Principal of the College of Health Sciences at Makerere University said the university was grateful for support from Brien Holden Vision Institute which provided equipment, curriculum development, human resources and inspiration.

“This has put Makerere University in the lead by providing optometry training and optometry services in Uganda, done in partnership with the College of Heath Sciences,” he said.

The progression of having locally trained optometrists in Uganda will raise the efficiency of eye care services by increasing access for the population and strengthen referral pathways, enabling greater cost effectiveness for the existing health systems. Optometrists will relieve ophthalmologists from providing eye care services like refraction and prescribing glasses, allowing them to focus on medical and surgical treatments of care.

Dr Naomi Nsubuga, sub-regional manager, Brien Holden Vision Institute has been an active proponent in the development of optometry in Uganda since 2004. “It gives me great pleasure knowing we can now train optometrists locally in Uganda using internationally developed teaching materials and using the latest advanced equipment. The graduate optometrists from Makerere University will provide much needed optometry services to the people of Uganda,” she said.

At the graduation ceremony Petronella Nichols, Africa regional director, Brien Holden Vision Institute said, “Today we see the first optometry students graduate in Uganda because of the collaborative efforts and shared vision of all partners and stakeholders. With these pioneer graduates we greatly look forward to seeing optometry services reaching many more Ugandans in need of glasses and facilitating referrals for more serious eye conditions such as cataract and glaucoma.”

Mivision interviewed Dr Anguyo Dralega, Head of the Optometry School, Makerere University and graduate Godfrey Wanok when they visited Australia in 2018. Visit www.mivision.com.au/2018/08/optometryin-uganda-building-blocks-of-a-new-profession to read the full story.