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SN fellow performs VR surgery in Afghanistan

March 31, 2010, was a red letter day not only for Dr. Hussein Frogh but also for his native Afghanistan. The 37-year old from Kabul completed his fellowship in clinical vitreo retinal diseases from Sankara Nethralaya and became the first in his country to do so.

His feat was followed closely by his first vitreo retinal surgery back in Kabul. In strife-torn Afghanistan, there are 200,000 blind people, 80% of the country’s population has no access to eye care and the nation has less than 100 ophthalmologists.

Undeterred by the few training programmes in his country and determined to gain knowledge in vitreo retina — the country has no training in this sub-speciality of ophthalmology — Dr. Hussein began scouting for vitreo retinal fellowship programmes abroad.

His search ended with a chance meeting with (late) Dr. Lawrence King, during the latter’s visit to Kabul. Dr. King, who underwent training with Sankara Nethralaya Chairman Emeritus Dr. SS Badrinath at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear infirmary, referred Dr. Hussein to Sankara Nethralaya to undergo the VR fellowship at the institution.

In April 2008, Dr. Hussein joined the fellowship programme at Nethralaya. In the next two years he underwent an intensive training programme which included learning the various examining techniques in VR, participating in weekly seminars to discuss interesting cases, taking part in the institution’s teleophthalmology camps and performing simple and complicated VR cases with/without the assistance of a senior consultant.

Doctors at SN describe Dr. Hussein as an extremely polite, energetic and committed individual who showed a genuine desire in learning and mastering vitreo retinal skills.

The training, the institution believes, will enable Dr. Hussein to fulfill his goal of not only treating people with vitreo retinal diseases but also train fellow ophthalmologists in Afghanistan.

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