Objective: To establish the status of sub-specialization among practicing ophthalmologists in the Eastern Africa
Design: This was a cross-sectional study.
Method: An analysis of data obtained from 65 practising ophthalmologists from six universities/teaching
hospitals in three countries within Eastern Africa.
Results: About a third (32%) of the practising ophthalmologists had sub-specialized while the rest (68%) had
not sub-specialized. Glaucoma had the highest number of sub-specialists while neuro-ophthalmology, uveitis
and ophthalmic pathology/tumour had none. About two-thirds (65.9%) of ophthalmologists who had not
sub-specialized indicated willingness to specialize subject to availability of opportunity and funding. Vitroretinal
surgery and anterior segment being the most preferred sub-specialties. India was cited as the main subspecialization
destination due to availability of sufficient hands-on training opportunities. The main barriers
to sub-specialization cited were lack of sufficient funding and inadequate opportunities for sub-specialization.
Lack of support in terms of equipment was seen as a major post-training challenge.
Conclusion: Majority of practising ophthalmologists had not sub-specialized mainly due to lack of sufficient
opportunities and funding. Although glaucoma is the area with many sub-specialists, vitro-retinal surgery
and anterior segment are emerging as the main preferred specialty area among ophthalmologists who had
not sub-specialized. Consequently, sustainable and demand driven funding and training opportunities for subspecialization
needs to be provided as a mechanism of raising sub-specialization profiles within the regions.
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