The pandemic has impacted on regular service provision at the Department of Ophthalmology in Jimma University, which is well known for its highly regarded voluntary eye-care campaigns in southwestern Ethiopia.
The department has been working on ways to serve the community virtually amidst the constraints put on it by COVID-19. It has now announced the establishment of an Ophthalmic Tele-Consultation Clinic to provide the community with guidance and treatment on eye-related diseases.
Telemedicine is a way to treat patients who are located in remote places, far away from local health facilities. It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact and intervention and is being increasingly used as a tool for convenient medical care during these uncertain times.
This tele-consultation clinic has been established to serve service seekers who are unable to visit eye-care centers due to the COVID-19 challenge.
It will provide health information, be able to reorder prescribed medications, counsel on problems that might not need further evaluation in person, and identify acute problems in order to refer patients for urgent hospital visits.
Dr. Kumale Tolesa, Head of Department Ophthalmology, told Addis Zeybe that ophthalmologists are at a high-risk category because they have close contact with patients during their examination
The Department has dedicated telephone lines for the service and is encouraging people in need of help to contact professionals at the department from the comfort of their homes. Any treatment other than urgent or emergent care should be avoided in order to reduce virus transmission.
The Department of Ophthalmology is known for conducting free eye-care service campaigns. The last promotion served more than 10,000 needy communities in March of last year, just before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. This was conducted in collaboration with the Himalayan Cataract Project and Vision Care Ethiopia.