Anselmo Vilanculos

Dr. Anselmo is the main ophthalmologist at Nampula Central Hospital in Mozambique and Director of the Eye Health Department. He is responsible for the overall coordination of all eye care activities within the Nampula Province, covering a population of almost 4 million. He is also a trainer of trachoma graders and recorders and acts as supervisor during the trachoma mapping activities being held in Mozambique. 

Lack of eye health personnel is a key challenge across all sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Anselmo was instrumental in supporting joint advocacy activities of Sightsavers and the Ministry of Health to recruit more ophthalmologists in the province of his competence, managing to get two additional ophthalmologists, bringing the total to three (including himself). He also advocated to decentralize the training of ophthalmic clinical officers (OCOs) from Maputo, the capital city, to Nampula province. As a result, the Nampula province increased the number of OCOs from seven in 2008 to thirty-four currently.

In the early years of the Nampula Comprehensice Eye Care Service project, as the sole ophthalmologist, Dr. Anselmo was in charge of all surgeries in Nampula Central Hospital and also for those in eye camps at district level. Despite the fact that often he was only able to operate two days a week (as the operating room was shared with other departments), he was able to increase the surgeries from 150 in 2008 to 524 in 2009. 

During the districts eye camps he would often operate at night, so to ensure maximum efficiency from the sole operating room and that no patient would be sent back without operating, as visits only lasted for about 13 days.

When faced with  the risk of having to halt trachoma mapping activities due to financial restraints, through his leadership and motivational skills he was able to persuade the clinical staff to carry out the mapping activities till the end, despite the interruption in perdiem payments. He did so by focusing the team's attention on to the added value to their curriculum of being the first to carry out a trachoma mapping and to the help that the information they were collecting would bring to their communities.

After prevalence studies highlighted that one of the main challenges to access to eye care services in the province was lack of transportation or money for transport, he advocated for patients who could not afford to travel to be picked up in their communities. Following that, access to surgeries increased exponentially and currently 60% of patients undergoing surgery are being transported from their community to hospital and back.

More than just an ophthalmologist, Dr. Anselmo has shown himself to be a leader and an inspiration to for his team and the communities he serves.