Ethiopian Surgeon Runs Independent Outreach Based on HCP-Model

First published on September 28th, 2023 by HCP Cureblindness

Having worked with HCP Cureblindness for more than a decade, Ethiopian cataract surgeon Abraham Aregay hosts his first ever independent outreach structured on HCP’s proven model.

Cataract surgeon Dr. Abreham Aregai examines a patient during the outreach held in July 2023 in Kemissee, Ethiopia. HCP/Fekadu Merga

A major cornerstone of HCP Cureblindness’ strategy has always been the transfer of skills to build local capacity. This action-based approach builds local leadership, empowers key actors and develops sustainable practices from the ground up.

Abraham Aregay, owner of Bete-Abraham Specialty Eye Clinic in Ethiopia, is proof positive that this approach works. A long-time HCP volunteer, he recently led his first independent surgical outreach based on lessons learned from working alongside HCP for more than a decade.

HCP Cureblindness and Bete-Abraham Specialty Eye Clinic have entered into a new partnership agreement to provide high-quality, high-volume cataract surgery to underserved communities in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.

HCP/Fekadu Merga

Patients lined the corridors at Abraham’s first independent outreach in Kemise town, an underserved area in the Amhara region. News had spread of the talented surgeon providing free cataract surgery. Husbands brought wives, children brought parents, wives brought husbands, each wishing and wanting the same thing: the miracle of sight restored.

Abraham hoped to complete 500 surgeries. They did more, finishing 554 by the week’s end.

“Because we share the same mission and goals, working with HCP makes me happy and motivates me to support underprivileged communities. You can see from the first outreach at Kemisse that we were able to do 554 procedures in 4 days, 350 of which I performed by myself,” he says.

Abraham credits HCP with not only perfecting his skills but also increasing his speed to allow him to treat more patients.

In the past 12 years, Abraham has learned new surgical skills and worked with HCP outreach organizers to understand the flow of outreaches and manage outreach staff. He’s personally performed nearly 100,000 cataract surgeries.

The smile on his face is nearly as big as the ones on his patients when he removes bandages the day after surgery. Patients spontaneously dance and sing in celebration.

HCP/Fekadu Merga

“After a year, I had become skilled enough to conduct 100 procedures each day. When I first started with HCP, I performed 20 to 30 surgeries every day. I don’t think anyone else in Ethiopia can perform 200 treatments a day the way I can now,” Aregay explains. “Professor Geoff (Tabin), one of the HCP founders, and Dr. Matt (Oliva), a board member, trained me on all the skills required to perform multiple surgeries in a single day.”

“It’s been eight years since I worked at Woldia Hospital (where I first met HCP),” he says. From that initial meeting, HCP sent Aregay to Nepal and Tilganga to further develop his surgical skills.

“By taking this leadership role to expand care,” explains HCP Country Director Zelalem Habtamu, “Abraham is ensuring that more and more people will see.”

This partnership is just the beginning. HCP looks forward to watching Abraham’s continued success and leadership as he restores sight to more people in the Amhara region.

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