Mark Jacoby on behalf of the Sabona Sonke Foundation, South Africa
Implementing telemedicine screening and treatment for retinopathy of prematurity in the Nelson Mandela Metro and Cacadu District of South Africa
The Eastern Cape Province of South Africa is experiencing a rise in the incidence of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a trend seen globally in countries where improved premature baby survival rates have not been supported by adequate ophthalmic services. Limited human resources in this vast province have contributed to the problem.
A successful ROP screening program has already been introduced in the Nelson Mandela Metro where over 850 babies have been screened at Dora Nginza Hospital. There are, however, many other district neonatal units in the province where human resource constraints, coupled with equipment and infrastructure challenges, have made ROP screening impossible.
This project aims to increase the availability and accessibility of quality vision and eye care services for at-risk premature infants in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Cacadu District, by expanding the existing screening program to a second neonatal unit via a telemedicine platform. A retinal camera will be placed at the unit and the local staff will be trained in imaging the eyes of premature infants and transmitting the images to a reading centre at Dora Nginza Hospital. The local health workforce will also be trained in systems of administration and management of patients between facilities. If successful, the program will then be exanded to the other units in the province.