An eye doctor from The James Cook University Hospital is jetting off to Africa to join the fight against blindness in rural Angola.
Chrisjan Dees will spend a month treating patients and training much-needed doctors but ahead of his October flight he is hoping to raise £4,800 to enable him to buy three essential pieces of kit.
The consultant ophthalmologist is aiming to raise £2,400 for a portable slit lamp for basic eye examinations, £1,000 for an ophthalmoscope with camera attachment so he can share retinal images by email and get advice from colleagues in the UK or US, and £1,400 for an indirect ophthalmoscope.
He is also hoping local opticians will donate some additional second hand equipment.
Chrisjan and his wife Anja will spend a week in Lubango with Steve Collins, the only ophthalmology specialist who makes monthly visits to rural Angola to give treatments such as basic cataract surgery.
“People in rural Angola need their eye sight and Angola has very few eye doctors,” said Chrisjan.
“Steve flies out to treat eye patients in remote areas for two weeks every month but he lacks equipment that would enable him to diagnose eye problems with much more precision. A number of fairly basic pieces of kit will help him enormously in his fight against blindness in rural Angola and will help him train his team much better.”
Chrisjan first heard about Steve’s work from his nephew Marijn Goud who flies for MAF emergency medevac services in Angola.
“As soon as he told me about Steve, who is now 77 years old and something of a legend, I felt I had to help him. This doctor works with minimal resources and few assistants and is the only ophthalmologist for huge parts of rural Angola, treating and preventing blindness. Angola has one ophthalmologist per one million population, Britain has over 50!”
In Benguela Chrisjan will be working with charitable eye hospital Boa Vista. They have a small number of eye doctors and a two-year programme for training doctors to become ophthalmology specialists.
“I will be doing some teaching with them, showing them how to use their newly acquired Argon laser, and helping them with some of the surgery,” he said. “In return, they will teach me a lot about tropical eye disease and about how to cope helping patients with very basic facilities and equipment!”