Unite For Sight volunteers work with Dr. Seth Wanye, MD, and his ophthalmic staff at the Eye Clinic of Tamale Teaching Hospital and in surrounding villages. The Unite For Sight volunteers, ophthalmic nurses, and optometrists, screen for eye disease and operable cataracts in remote rural villages that are located 1-3 hours from Tamale. The volunteers and others on the outreach team are transported by van to the villages in the morning, and then return to Tamale in the late afternoon. Patients in the villages receive an exam, diagnosis, eyeglasses, medication, and treatment. Those requiring advanced care and surgery are transported from the villages to Eye Clinic of Tamale Teaching Hospital for care and sight-restoring surgery by Dr. Wanye. All patients screened in Unite For Sight's programs receive free surgery funded by Unite For Sight so that no patient remains blind due to lack of funds.
In the village outreach programs, volunteers assist the ophthalmic staff in all aspects of the eye care programs. They take patient history, test visual acuity, assist the eye nurses and optometrists with the examination, distribute medication and eyeglasses prescribed by the optometrists, provide eye health education in the villages and schools, and help with the coordination of patient surgeries.
When at the the eye clinic, volunteers have an opportunity to assist Dr. Wanye and the ophthalmic nurses and optometrists in the clinic and in the operating theater.
Dr. Wanye is the regional ophthalmologist, and he takes responsibility for all eye care services in the region for 2 million people. Prior to Unite For Sight's partnership with Eye Clinic of Tamale Teaching Hospital, Dr. Wanye often went months without providing a single cataract surgery because the community members could not afford the cost of surgery. Unite For Sight volunteers now work with him to assist with screening outreach programs, and Unite For Sight funds the cataract surgeries for the patients so that no one will remain blind due to lack of funds. During 2007, Unite For Sight coordinated and funded 1,594 sight-restoring surgeries in Tamale. Additionally, more than 10,000 eyeglasses were prescribed by the eye clinic's staff. All of these eyeglasses were collected by Unite For Sight volunteers.
Volunteers lodge in a rented house in Tamale. Combined, lodging and food expenses are approximately $15-$20 per day. Depending on flight arrival and departure schedules, volunteers may lodge for 1-2 days in Accra at the Telecentre Bed and Breakfast, which costs $15/day for double occupancy, or $25/day for single occupancy. Food expenses in Accra are approximately $10/day.
Volunteers are picked up from the airport in Accra and brought by car to Tamale. The gas for the 8-10 hour round trip ride costs approximately $60-$80 per volunteer.
The Tamale program is suitable to anyone 18 years and older who has an interest in international service and health. Volunteers range from gap year students, undergraduate students, and medical students to public health students, public health professionals, nurses, educators, opticians, optometrists, ophthalmologists, and others.
Optometrists committing to participate for at least 4 weeks, and ophthalmologists committing to participate for at least 1 week, will receive a free airline ticket from Emirates Airlines. Optometrists work daily with Ghanaian optometrists and eye nurses to provide eye exams in the rural villages and in the eye clinic. Ophthalmologists work daily with Dr. Wanye to provide cataract surgeries and other ophthalmic care at Eye Clinic of Tamale Teaching Hospital. Ophthalmologists also provide skills transfer.
--Video: At Unite for Sight's Third Annual International Health Conference at Yale University in April 2006, Unite For Sight partner ophthalmologists Dr. James Clarke (Accra, Ghana), Dr. T. Senthil (Chennai, India), and Dr. Seth Wanye (Tamale, Ghana) discussed eye care needs and Unite For Sight programs in their countries. Click here to view the 20-minute session and learn more about volunteering with Unite For Sight in Ghana.
--Video: At Unite for Sight's Fourth Annual International Health Conference at Stanford University on April 14, 2007, a panel discussion was organized to discuss urgent global eye care needs. Click here to view this 1-hour panel discussion with Unite For Sight's partner Ghanaian and Indian ophthalmologists, partner eye clinic staff, and Medical Advisors.