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Ghana Lecturing Tour – Prof Eric Papas

[:en]One of the highlights of 2015 was the Lecturing Tour that The Optical Foundation organized. We invited Professor Eric Papas to present at two universities (University of Cape Coast and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology) and at the Ghanaian Optometric Association in Accra. His presentation included work published from the Tear Film and Ocular Surface workshops on meibomian gland dysfunction and contact lens discomfort.

The lectures went on for approximately 2 hours and the students and optometrists listened with rapt attention. Students and optometrists came up with many questions afterwards and were very excited to meet Prof Eric Papas. There were optometrists that traveled 6 hours to attend Prof Eric Papas’ presentation! It was a very successful and inspiring week.

A video impression of the lecturing tour can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/Si1okHOYkFw Prof Eric Papas about his experience in Ghana: “You never quite know what to expect when you arrive in a new country, that you haven’t visited before. One thing I have learned over my years of travelling though, is not to have pre-conceived ideas. It’s much better to see what you find when you get there. What I found in Ghana was amazing! Beautiful lakes, dramatic beaches, bustling markets, intense history and Red Red…… but most of all, truly fantastic people.

My trip lasted only for ten days but during that time, expertly guided by Carolina Kunnen from The Optical Foundation, I managed to visit Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast. We travelled by bus, which gave a marvelous opportunity to see the country outside the busy streets of the major cities. The tour was a bit of a whirlwind but we packed in lectures to the students at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and
Technology and University of Cape Coast and the clinicians of the Association of Optometrists and also visited clinical sites at Jachie, Ayeduase and Korle Bu hospital to see how eye-care is delivered in the community. Everywhere we went the welcome was warm and friendly and I could not have been more impressed by the enthusiasm, professionalism and thirst for knowledge among those we encountered.
The commitment to patient care and service delivery that I saw demonstrated at every level, from students, through teachers to practicing clinicians, was fantastic and is making a real difference. A great example of this was the undergraduate student who approached us with plans for providing outreach vision screening in a remote rural area; a wonderful idea that has since been made to happen.

Ghana presents a challenging environment for health care but it is compelling how much benefit comes from the hard work of the professionals in the area and their careful use of the scarce resources available to them. Hopefully our visit did a little bit to help. Oh and Red Red…? That’s a tomato, bean, palm oil, pepper stew served with fried plantains; delicious with a cold beer and worth going back for on its own.”

Some reviews from optometrists and students attending the lecture:

Collins: “Hi Carolina, Your love for what you do is admirable. Thank you for visiting Ghana and for the
great presentation. Prof Papas presentation was great. He got me thinking a lot about how to improve
eye research in Ghana. His phrase "watch this space" told me of the many gaps we have to fill in
research. Keep the smile!”
Emmanuel: “I am glad you enjoyed your stay with us at KNUST. It was a pleasure to have you and Eric
around. The lecture was great and the interactions we had was also insightful.”

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