26th March 2019
Beating Retinopathy of Prematurity at the Miriam Hyman Children's Eye Care Centre

From 26th to 29th March, 2019 London welcomed two visitors from the L V Prasad Eye Institute, which houses the MHCECC in its Mithu Tulsi Chanrai campus in Odisha's capital city, Bhubaneswar.

LVPEI's retinopathy expert, Dr Subhadra Jalali, Associate Director accompanied Dr Tapas Ranjan Padhi, Consultant, Retina Viterous Services at the MHCECC, to the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium Five Year Meeting at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

We take this opportunity to review the progress of ROP services at the MHCECC.

Beating ROP in Odisha

Retinopathy of Prematurity is a form of blindness that contributes significantly to global statistics, and is preventable if diagnosed and treated before it becomes irreversible.

Dr Tapas has been working towards the eradication of blindness through ROP in Odisha since the foundation of the MHCECC in 2008. He says:

"I remember, we started our programme at a single neonatal unit in Bhubaneswar, (roughly five to ten babies a month) and today we have covered all the neonatal units in Bhubaneswar and have expanded our ROP care to eight more districts of Odisha. We now see around 300 babies a month. We have not come across a single baby that has become blind because of ROP in Bhubaneswar in the last three years. We are in the process of achieving the same in the peripheral districts of Odisha and some day will achieve our mission of ZERO ROP BLIND from Odisha."

Due to its success, the MHCECC's ROP team has participated in "ROP NET", a mentorship programme organised by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. ROP programmes in five developing countries are mentored by five centres in India that have high volume ROP work with peripheral outreach. Dr Tapas explains:

"The ROP team at Bhubaneswar has been fortunate to mentor ROP activity in Nigeria. This is first time that LVPEI Bhubaneswar got the opportunity of an international mentorship because of ROP. We have trained more than 25 ophthalmologist in ROP at national and international level and have published 20 research papers in journals. This is a witness of the growth of the ROP programme at Bhubaneswar."

Fighting ROP further afield

Dr Tapas gave us more good news (May 2019):

"It gives me immense pleasure to inform you that we successfully operated a six-month-old baby from Nigeria. This baby, one among triplets, was diagnosed with advanced ROP by an ophthalmologist in Nigeria who was trained by us, and referred to Bhubaneswar for surgery.

"LVPEI Bhubaneswar was selected as a mentor for Nigeria to help them tackle ROP blindness there under the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust (QEDJT). Under this mentorship programme, myself and a neonatologist went to Nigeria and did a week-long hands-on workshop for lead paediatric ophthalmologists from different regions of Nigeria. Additionally a senior paediatric ophthalmologist traveled to LVPEI Bhubaneswar and got training in ROP screening and laser treatment. The Nigeria team is constantly in touch with the ROP group at the MHCECC via social media and our assistance to the Nigerian team in eliminating ROP blindness in their country still continues.

"Without the vitreoretinal surgical unit at the MHCECC, a facility that is not available in Nigeria, that triplet could have lost any chance of having his vision saved within a few months. Now we expect the baby to be able to see, with time. This would not have been possible without your generous support in strengthening our ROP unit at the MHCECC. The unit today is complete in many respects including ROP screening expertise, laser and surgery, advanced vitreoretinal surgical unit for tackling complex ROP detachments, paediatric anaesthetist, neonatal nurse, small neonatal emergency set up, paediatric ophthalmology, amblyopia and low vision wing to enhance visual recovery.

"With tons of thanks again for the endless support in helping us eliminate ROP blindness."

The MHMT congratulates Dr Tapas and his team for making such significant progress and for benefiting the wider community with their expertise and facilities. We are delighted to continue supporting the MHCECC's Outreach work.