City, University of London is a key stakeholder in the development of an ophthalmic nursing curriculum in Tanzania.
VISION 2020 is the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, a joint programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
The Vision 2020 LINKS programme works to improve the quality and quantity of eye care training in healthcare institutions in Africa through linking them with partner institutions in the UK.
Dr Michelle Hennelly, is Vision 2020 Programme Director and Programme Director of City’s MSc in Advanced Ophthalmic Nurse Practitioner (MSc in Advanced Practice in Health and Social Care)/MSc in Clinical Optometry.
Since her appointment as Vision 2020 Programme Director in July 2019, Dr Hennelly has developed a three-day curriculum training workshop which is held at City for attendees from Tanzania, Botswana and Ghana.
As a consequence, Dr Hennelly was invited by Tanzania’s Ministry of Health Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC) to attend and advise at a stakeholder meeting to discuss its ophthalmic nursing training programme.
The purpose of the consultative meeting was to engage educational stakeholders in Tanzania in the revitalisation of the ophthalmic nursing training programme and it took place at the MoHCDGEC in Dodoma, Tanzania.
Stakeholders included the Government, President’s Office, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, University of Dodoma, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, Mbeya University; Tanzania Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Tanzania Ophthalmologist Society.
Urgent action is required given the current, significant deficits of trained ophthalmic practitioners in the region, coupled with a lack of ophthalmic nurse training since 2010.
Many organisations have highlighted the issue of not having an appropriately trained and deployed eye care workforce, including Tanzania VISION 2020, National Strategy for Economic Growth and Poverty Elimination, Health for All, and Primary Health Care and Sustainable Development Goals.
Dr Hennelly was invited to the meeting to help with the development of a curriculum for the Ministry’s ophthalmic nursing training programme, and to suggest ways of integrating professional accreditation, while reflecting on the roles of eye care professions globally.
Specific reference was made to building on the sustainable links made earlier in 2019 with City, and the links with other countries in the region (i.e. Botswana and Ghana), which would help share best learning practice and enable collaboration regionally and internationally.
Dr Hennelly’s presentation focused on the regional eye care issues that arise in a rapidly ageing population affected by diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataract. She shared that with advances in knowledge and technology, up to 80% of blindness is preventable and treatable.
Dr Michelle Hennelly addressing the stakeholder meeting in Dodoma
Following extensive discussions involving all stakeholders at the meeting, an agreed path forward was agreed in the following areas:
- Consensus on a pathway for ophthalmic nurses (ON) training in Tanzania
- An appropriate career path for ONs with recognition of the Professional Council
- A curriculum to meet the urgent needs of the Tanzanian population
Further follow-up and training will be provided by City, University of London in 2020 in both Tanzania and Botswana.
About the academic
Dr Michelle Hennelly is the MSc Programme Director for the MSc in Clinical Optometry, MSc in Advanced Practice in Health and Social Care (Clinical Optometry) and MSc in Advanced Practice in Health and Social Care (Ophthalmic Nurse Practitioner) at City, University of London.
She is a qualified optometrist who completed her PhD at City, University of London in 2002. During her time at City, she has been a Clinical supervisor, special techniques teacher at the Fight for Sight Eye Clinic and the Contact Lens Referral Clinic Co-ordinator and Practitioner.