Dr. Doreen Frimpong: Pediatric Ophthalmologist & Child Eye Health Hero

Dr. Frimpong is an eye health hero we’ve been working side-by-side with since 2017. She heads up the pediatric department at our partner hospital, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), in Ghana and has been working hard to save sight on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May 2021, our amazing team hosted the first-ever VIRTUAL Flying Eye Hospital training program, ensuring partners like Dr. Frimpong can continue to share skills and access training, even in the middle of a pandemic.

Thanks to our history of innovation, we were prepared to pivot much of our training to online via our telemedicine platform, Cybersight. Dr. Frimpong and her colleagues have therefore been able to remotely attend additional training and skills sharing that will help improve access to eye care in Ghana for years to come.

We caught up with her and one of her Orbis mentors, Dr. Jamie Brandt, to find out more about her relationship with Orbis, as well as fighting blindness in Ghana throughout the pandemic.

Training Experiences With Orbis

Dr. Frimpong’s relationship with Orbis goes back to 2017 when we, and long-time Orbis Volunteer Faculty pediatric glaucoma specialist, Dr. Jamie Brandt, facilitated a fellowship opportunity in the United States for her and her colleague, Dr. Angelina Ampong.

This remarkable opportunity, with help from Orbis supporters, involved spending two weeks in a wet lab practicing surgical skills with pediatric glaucoma “guru”, Dr. Alana Grajewski at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Florida. The pair then attended the 2017 AAO conference in Chicago, followed by a stop in Sacramento, California to spend 10 days with Dr. Brandt at UC Davis, one of the most prestigious public universities in the world.

In 2019, Dr. Frimpong, Dr. Ampong and Dr. Brandt reunited for a hospital-based training program, this time in Kumasi, Ghana. As Dr. Brandt put it, the goal of the program was to "bring both of these eye doctors into the fold along with other leading sub-specialists in pediatric ophthalmology.”

Dr. Doreen Frimpong

PEDIATRIC OPHTHALMOLOGIST, KOMFO ANOKYE TEACHING HOSPITAL

The unique­ness is the Orbis com­mit­ment — you can see the love and the com­mit­ment that vol­un­teers and staff have for the job in terms of train­ing peo­ple to be like them so that we can deliv­er and help others.”
Dr. Doreen Frimpong, Pediatric Ophthalmologist, KATH, Kumasi, Ghana

Dr. Frimpong (centre) with mentor and Orbis Volunteer Faculty, Dr. Jamie Brandt (UC Davis, USA) on right and Dr. Brandt's fellow on left.

As a long-time Orbis Volunteer Faculty member, Dr. Brandt has a unique perspective on the importance of training our partners. He added: “For me, as a diehard academic who wouldn’t be in medicine if not for the teaching part, Orbis provides the ability to create new colleagues and support them through their practice.

“Dr. Frimpong and Dr. Ampong are fine examples whom I’ve helped bring on board into the larger community of pediatric glaucoma specialists. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling to know that I’ve trained people to do pediatric glaucoma on multiple continents.”

Dr. Frimpong’s Commitment

Speaking on the subject of how out partner hospital, KATH, were forced to adapt to continue the delivery of eye health services during the pandemic, Dr. Frimpong said: “During the COVID era, we had to strategize. Initially we were not doing any cases. But then we realized that we needed to find some way to continue. We started doing a few cases – maybe two or three a week.

“But now we are trying to put all the protocols in place when it comes to COVID-19. We are back on track now, but we do have a backlog. We have about 100 people on the waiting list. So, as you can imagine, it has really affected the clinic.”

We asked Dr. Frimpong where she sees herself in five years. She said. “I wish that the pediatric ophthalmologists here will be well equipped enough for us to be able to do all kinds of services that we are supposed to do for our patients. Because sometimes it's not even that. We are limited in terms of consumables and then other logistics."

Dr. Doreen Frimpong and KATH colleague, Dr. Angelina Ampong

“The patients will keep coming and we'll keep telling them we don't have the consumables or the machines that we need to use to do their surgeries. So in five years, we wish to have everything we need to take them into the theatre for their operation. Also, we’ll have more pediatric ophthalmologists!”

We would like to thank Dr. Frimpong for all her hard work and dedication to saving sight, especially over the last 18 months. While there is still a lot of support and hard work needed to improve the quality of eye care in Ghana, we’re confident that Dr. Frimpong and her colleagues at KATH have what it takes to move things in the right direction.

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