Patricia Alice Tarawally Optometric Technician

Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north-east, Liberia to the south-east and the Atlantic Ocean to the south-west. It's population is a little over 7 million, with over 1 million in its capital Freetown. It suffers from a chronic shortage of trained medical personnel, not least in the eye care field. The government, along with non government organisations such as Vision Aid Overseas, are attempting to address this overwhelming need. With only 1 Optometrist in the country it was decided that an Optometric Technician qualification should be established.

Vision Aid Overseas have so far sponsored 11 students to carry out a one year intense training course at the Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Centre in the Gambia. Patricia Tarawally was one of the first students to qualify and on returning to Sierra Leone she took a one year internship at Connaught Hospital, Freetown, where she learnt practical skills to supplement the theory. Continuing sponsorship by Vision Aid Overseas allowed Patricia to be posted to Koidu Government Hospital, where a Vision Centre had previously been established by the charity.

Patricia is now permanently based at Kenema Government Hospital where she manages the Vision Centre, whilst also visiting satellite facilities in neighbouring districts, such as Kailahun.

Patricia describes a typical day as follows:

  • refraction of patients who have been referred from the ophthalmic nurse to see if they benefit from spectacles
  • glazing - cutting the correctly powered lens to fit in the frame chosen by the patient, using equipment installed and provided by Vision Aid Overseas
  • dispensing - helping the patient choose an appropriate frame and ensuring that the frame fits well once the spectacles have been made
  • management responsibility for running the Kenema Vision Centre, checking stocks, collecting daily statistics, ordering supplies
"I am so grateful! I have no regrets. I find everyday interesting, seeing different patients with different eye conditions. I am grateful to Vision Aid Overseas for helping me become an Optometric Technician so that I can help my people in Sierra Leone."
Created By
Graham Coates
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