There is a growing recognition in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) of the need for increased sub-specialisation in areas of ophthalmic care such as glaucoma, cornea, oculoplastic, paediatric ophthalmology and retinal services.
The College of Ophthalmology of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (COECSA) and West Africa College of Surgeons (WACS) had been working separately on ways to address this important challenge with the facilitation of IAPB Africa. Additional support came from the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust through the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium (CEHC), who sponsored over a hundred ophthalmologists and other eye care team members from the region to undertake clinical fellowships training in centres of excellence, predominantly in Asia. This has been with the aim of enlarging the number of sub-specialty trained personnel in the region. The expanded pool of potential teaching faculty provides the colleges with necessary resource for the next phase, to promote sub-specialist training opportunities in centres of excellence in SSA itself.
In May 2018 COECSA and WACS held a joint workshop to assess the need and future direction for sub-speciality training in the region. This has led to an 18-month development plan to establish regional training programmes. A situational analysis is underway to identify exactly what capacity currently exists to deliver sub-specialist fellowship level training. Systems, curricula and infra-structure are being put in place by each college to facilitate the accreditation of institutions to offer sub-specialist training posts, recruit fellowship candidates to those posts and certify ophthalmologists as sub-specialists. This development process is being supported by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, and it is hoped that additional funding will be secured to support the ongoing delivery of these new programmes from 2020.