lun. Jul 22nd, 2019

Knowledge gained following the 2014–16 West Africa Ebola outbreak identified a number of challenges survivors face, including reduced or blurred vision stemming from inflammation of their eyes. About 20% of survivors from that outbreak had some form of eye problem.

An aerial view of the city of Beni in North Kivu province World Bank/V. Tremeau

By identifying and treating these problems early, serious consequences, including blindness, can be averted. With the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization recently organized an eye clinic to check on the eye health of survivors of the current Ebola outbreak.

Dr Jessica Shantha (left) and Dr Steven Yeh (right), professors from Emory University, check the eyes of an Ebola survivor for any potential complications WHO/J. D. Kannah

 

The clinic was held in Beni, DRC, one of the affected areas, from 25 March to 1 April. In addition, an eye clinic in Butembo, another affected area, was equipped so that they can provide this specialized care to survivors there. This is the first time in an Ebola outbreak that follow-up for eye care has happened so soon after survivors have been released from care.

 

Ms Kanyare brings her baby Muhindo to the clinic WHO/J. D. Kannah

 

Several survivors also helped with the planning and administration of the clinic. Partners in this project include Emory University, which deployed two ophthalmologists, and University of North Carolina which deployed one ophthalmologist to the project via the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, which is hosted by WHO.

 

Centrine takes an eye test to check for any complications following her survival from Ebola WHO/J. D. Kannah

 

Over 250 survivors were seen. The team noted that complications such as uveitis were observed at lower rates compared to cases from the 2014–16 West Africa Ebola outbreak. So far only one survivor had eye complications that may be linked to Ebola.

 

Télesphore Mumbere, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University Clinic Butembo, checks the eyes of an Ebola survivor WHO/J. D. Kannah

 

As part of the programme, international specialists trained 10 Congolese ophthalmologists on how to identify and treat Ebola-related eye issues. Feedback from participating national healthcare providers and enrolled survivors was overwhelmingly positive.

Christian has his eyes checked by Dr Steven Yeh WHO/J. D. Kannah

 

 

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