Dr. Honorine Nizeyimana received a CBM grant earlier this year and has already started training in Uganda to be an ophthalmologist. In conversation with the 34-year-old doctor from Burundi, she tells us what the job means to her.
CBM: Was there a specific moment when you decided to become an ophthalmologist?
Dr. Honorine Nizeyimana: When I was a student, my father needed ophthalmic medical help, but he didn't receive any. That’s when I decided to become an ophthalmologist, especially since there are hardly any in my home country Burundi.
CBM: How is your everyday life at the clinic and in the University?
Dr. Nizeyimana: I study at the university clinic in Mbarara and work at the Ruharo Clinic. During trainings, we are a mixed group of students from different semesters. I examine patients on Mondays and assist in the operating room on Tuesdays. This way I benefit from more advanced students.
CBM: What influence does the corona virus have on your education?
Dr. Nizeyimana: There were restrictions especially at the university. Initially, the start of the semester was delayed, and various exams had to be postponed. Because of the pandemic and the counter-measures the entire curriculum will be delayed by a few months.
CBM: What do you particularly like about your master’s degree in ophthalmology?
Dr. Nizeyimana: I'm especially happy that we can work hands-on right from the start. Because helping people is ultimately what motivates me and I really enjoy doing it.
CBM: You are studying in a foreign country. Do you miss your home?
Dr. Nizeyimana: It's not easy for me. I miss my children, my husband, my family. I video chat with them as often as possible. My children are still too young to understand why I am in Uganda and not with them.
CBM: What are your plans after this training?
Dr. Nizeyimana: I definitely want to go back to Burundi to practice as an ophthalmologist. I also see this as service to my fellow citizens. My doctorate should not just be on the name tag of my doctor's coat. I would like to fill it with the knowledge I have gained here and be a good doctor to the people of my homeland.
New ophthalmologists improve care services
The importance as well as dire need for new ophthalmologists and the CBM grant for medical care can be witnessed in Tanzania, where ophthalmologists Dr. Evarista Mgaya and Dr. Christopher Mwanansao recently started working at the "Bugando Medical Center" on Lake Victoria. Both successfully completed their training made possible through the CBM grant. This is a big step forward for people in this underserved region. Earlier only 70-80 patients could be treated per week at the clinic– currently the number has increased to 350. Eye surgeries along with cataract surgeries can be conducted on three different days per week. The doctors also bring new knowledge, skills and tools with them. This way diabetic retinopathy - a retinal disease – can now be treated with just a laser at the clinic.