Several weeks had passed since Abdou Njanga, a senior ophthalmic technician in Cameroon, had seen his patient.
“When she saw me from far away, she started dancing, and continued all the way until she reached us,” he said. “And she fell into my arms. That made me profoundly happy.”
Mr. Abdou had performed trichiasis surgery on the 35-year-old woman, saving her remaining vision and ending her pain. Her reaction would make any surgeon proud, but for Mr. Abdou, it was doubly gratifying. Mr. Abdou had recently greatly increased his commitment to trichiasis patients, training to become a supportive supervisor to fellow surgeons.
The new role will allow him to help other trichiasis surgeons achieve the best possible outcomes for patients.
Traditionally, surgeon supervisors have often played a “policeman” role, assessing surgeons’ performance from a fault-finding perspective. While that approach may have helped weed out poorly performing surgeons, it did little to improve surgeons’ skills and motivation and promote quality outcomes for patients.
Taking its cue from global recommendations and preferred practices calling for a more supportive approach to trichiasis surgery supervision, the MMDP Project worked with national ministries of health to implement a new model, one that focuses on helping surgeons continually improve and succeed.
“I see my role of supportive supervisor as being a mentor, able to pass what I have learned to the surgeons working in the field, and share my experience,” said ophthalmologist Dr. André Bertrand Kengmogne after his supportive supervision training in Cameroon.