Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Dr Ogundo and I was one of those children who knew early on what I wanted to do when I grew up- I wanted to change the world! Influenced by a number of relatives, I ended up in University of Nairobi medical school and four years after graduation I was back training as an ophthalmologist.
What’s your favourite part about being an ophthalmologist?
I’ve been an ophthalmologist at Mbagathi Hospital for six years now and my favourite part is still when I see a good result after managing a patient. It probably sounds very cliché, but I think most ophthalmologists get a thrill out of seeing a clear cornea, centred IOL and a smiling patient on day one post-op.
What has been your most memorable challenge as an ophthalmologist?
I’ve had the privilege of working in the public sector all my professional life, which comes with a predictable set of challenges. The one that I keep running into time and again is the lackadaisical attitude toward eye care. It was particularly frustrating when it came to setting up a diabetic retinopathy screening program at Mbagathi. Unlike other disciplines, eye care has to keep proving that it is important and useful at every turn.
You have recently completed an MSc in Public Health for Eye Care. How did you develop an interest in public health ophthalmology?
I guess being frustrated at the system and realizing that I was not good at advocacy or policy and protocol development; all of which are necessary in order for eye care to be taken seriously in the public sector. Consequently, I’ve spent the last one year at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine learning these and other skills while undertaking the MSc.
Your recent research is particularly relevant to the goals of universal health coverage. Based on your study, what is needed to enhance integration of eye care?
My research was on ‘Integration of eye health systems in the East, Central and Southern Africa region’. The results of the study show that the eye care team in the region has had some success with integration.
As shown in the illustration, integration can take place in the course of clinical work organically or incidentally and also as a result of good research and advocacy; but there is still quite a lot of work to be done.
All eye care health providers need to work towards bringing eye care to the attention of their communities. I use ‘community’ here in the wider sense of the word and not limited to patients and their families. If the community can be made aware of their eye care needs, they can be the drive that creates demand for eye care and in turn enhances integration of eye health into the general health system.
You can find out more about eye health systems integration from the World report on vision
What are some of the transferable skills you have learnt during the MSc?
Apart from the academic qualifications gained on the MSc, one of the most important skills I’ve developed is learning to communicate. Different stakeholders require different information and communication approaches. I have also learnt more about leadership and steering a team as well as the fundamentals of effective planning, monitoring and evaluation. I hope to put these skills to good use in the coming year in the OSK public health community of practice. I’m particularly looking forward to engaging with students and helping them become familiar with research practices.
Any parting words?
I’m hopeful about the future of eye health systems in the ECSA region, particularly in Kenya as we encourage a lot more eye health professionals to get involved in health promotion, research and integration.
I can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org