Ophthalmic Training Programme (ROTP) recently held its 17th graduation at a
ceremony at the Ebunjang Theatre in Kanifing.
The graduating class underwent different courses such as community Ophthalmic Nursing, Diploma in Ophthalmic Nursing, Advanced Diploma in Surgical Ophthalmic Nursing and Advanced Diploma in Optometry Technician.
Established in 2001 to coordinate the training of middle class eye health service providers, ROTP has over the years bridged the gap between rural communities and ophthalmologists, who are found in urban areas and who found it difficult to reach out to the underprivileged in the rural communities.
The journey started with twenty-five students, who all have successfully completed the course. Ten students were enrolled for diploma in ophthalmic nursing, nine students for advance diploma in surgical ophthalmic nursing and four students for community ophthalmic nursing.
National Eye Health Program manager, Sarjo Kanyi, acknowledged that the journey started with tentative steps but it has taken them to remarkable heights.
‘We have encountered some trials and tribulations along the way. Standing firm, we were all able to come out strong and we have experienced some exceptional moments that created memories that will always be remembered.’
ROTP courses coordinator, Pierre Mendy, noted that the National Eye Health Programme (NEHP) is recognised globally as a role model because of the design and strategies used to establish eye care services which reduced blindness prevalence from 0.7% to 0.4%, a level comparable to developed countries despite a growing increase in the population.
‘The design of the NEHP has made it possible to establish eye care services that meets the eye health needs of the population by making services easily accessible, affordable, and acceptable and of high quality.’
‘Training of mid-level eye care personnel from different countries has had a positive impact on eye care service delivery both in The Gambia and other countries. These personnel work in remote areas where eye health services were non-existent, hence bringing eye care to the doorsteps of the poor.’
Mendy maintained that its establishment and excellent performance has increased public awareness on eye diseases and this he said, has led to an increased demand of eye care services from centres, both within and the surrounding countries.
The Regional Eye Care, he added, is to function at the apex of the four level eye care structure - primary, secondary, tertiary and centre of excellence, similar to the World Health Organisation model, having in place a response mechanism to meet the needs of the others.