Dr. Simon Arunga works at the Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital Eye Centre (MURHEC) in Mbarara, Uganda. MURHEC is the beneficiary institution of an LCIF SightFirst grant that seeks to establish the first diabetic retinopathy screening and treatment programme in southwestern Uganda. As an ophthalmologist working at the beneficiary institution, Dr. Arunga works closely with the Lions of Mbarara to implement project activities, which include organizing screening events and treating referred patients at MURHEC.
The bond established between himself and the Lions was so strong that he decided to become a member of Lions Clubs International in April 2019. Dr. Arunga’s passion for service is evident in his decision to become a Lions member, the world’s largest service organization, and in his determination to implement this expansive project in southwestern Uganda. Dr. Arunga is committed to eliminating avoidable blindness in Uganda, believing that blindness and visual impairment are not only an individual problem, but rather a community problem. He also believes in collaboration and innovation to create sustainable approaches to eye care system development in Africa, and is enthusiastic to be among other young African ophthalmologists leading this initiative.
Dr. Arunga is pursuing his PhD project with the Commonwealth Eye Health Consortium at the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. His research focuses on the causes of corneal infections in Uganda, patient presentation pathways, diagnostic issues and the role of traditional eye medicine and outcomes.
“To me, ophthalmology is a calling – an opportunity to change the world one eye at a time. The miracle of sight changes the lives of whole communities, not just individuals. When someone becomes blind, one of the children (usually a girl child) is prevented from going to school to be able to take care of their blind relative. The miracle of sight not only it restores the dignity and productivity of the blind person, but also reignites the dreams of children whose education was put on hold. I count myself blessed to be able to witness this miracle daily.”
– Simon Arunga