Almost every one of our medical partners has a story about their inspiration to become a cataract surgeon. For some, it was a course they took in school that sparked an interest. For others, it was a patient they met when they began their training and saw how a brief medical procedure could dramatically improve a patient’s life.
Dr. Ranto’s inspiration began with the second, with one exception. The patient was his father, the family his own. The importance of eye care, for Dr. Ranto, literally began in his own home. Ranto’s father lost his sight from a traumatic eye injury while Ranto was just in his teens. Doctors had to remove his injured eye.
Years later, medical school confirmed Ranto’s early interests. One of his most memorable cases was a patient who had been blinded from an eye injury when he was near an explosion. Ranto assisted in the surgery, and the medical team was able to restore the patient’s eyesight even after the traumatic injury. From this moment forward, the drama of eye surgery captivated him. Returning sight, restoring patients’ lives-the experience was an opportunity he committed himself to pursue.
Today, Dr. Ranto works as one of the key cataract surgeons at HJRA, the largest eye hospital in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, and our first partner hospital in the country. He learned Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery through training with senior ophthalmologists at his hospital and Dr. Jean-marie Andre, HelpMeSee’s Medical Officer for Africa. After his latest training and instruction in the procedure, he is eager to begin training others in his country in the same procedure.
"The problem of cataract in Madagascar is a public health issue." - Dr. Ranto
Dr. Ranto tests a patient’s eyes as student nurses look on.
"There is also the issue of access to eye health,” Dr. Ranto explained. “There are not enough health centers or hospital that perform cataract surgeries. In addition, there is a lack of human capital, there are not enough ophthalmologists, which in the long term limits the access to cataract surgery."
His impact as a surgeon continues even after he has cured a patient’s blindness. For Dr. Ranto, cataract surgery is his livelihood and the means through which he supports his family, including his wife Markina, and sends his two children, Karene and Tiphene, to school.
And he is confident that the collaboration between local surgeons and HelpMeSee will change the landscape of eye care in Madagascar - his home.