Barcelona Clinic seeks donations to train eye doctors in developing countries

The hospital has become the first public university center in Europe after creating a teaching center in the surgical area

Those supporting the initiative include MotoGP champion Marc Márquez and actor Josep Maria Pou (by Pol Solà)
Those supporting the initiative include MotoGP champion Marc Márquez and actor Josep Maria Pou (by Pol Solà) / Oliver Little

Oliver Little | Barcelona

September 9, 2019 06:03 PM

The Hospital Clinic of Barcelona has recently pushed through the creation of the Clinic Eye Training Centre (CETC).

The revolutionary addition constitutes an area of surgical training, based within the new surgical area of Ophthalmology at the Maternitat Center in the Les Corts district in the centre of Barcelona.

The hospital is now looking for around €570,000 in donations to complete the project. MotoGP champion Marc Márquez is ambassador of the ‘Learn for Sight’ initiative, as well as local actors Josep Maria Pou and Queco Novell, who have previously been patients at the Clinic of Ophthalmology. The actors have participated in a promotional video for the project.

The new surgical space will provisionally be installed in June 2020, and will occupy a space of 1,000m2, and will cost €4 million to install. It is believed that it will allow the most innovative and modern ophthalmology techniques to be implemented, such as corneal transplants, glaucoma surgery with microimplants or 3D surgery.

Within the area, the teaching zone will be approximately 160m2, and will be able to offer instruction to professionals in developing countries through cooperation programme, ‘Learn for Sight’, which will provide the specialists training and resources from the Clinic. 

New training opportunities

The space will have a training room and a simulation laboratory, which will allow trainees to acquire basic and specific surgical and diagnostic skills. There will also be a space for experimental surgery, which will provide cataract, retina, cornea and glaucoma surgery practice on pig eyes. 

The space’s location within the actual surgical area of the hospital will facilitate the immersion of the trainees - they will be able to see around 40 operations carried out every day, and observe communication with external consultations, of which the hospital hosts around 200 daily. 

Revolutionary within Europe

This is the first ophthalmology training project in Europe that is integrated within a surgical area of a public centre. It is hoped that around 500 people will be trained every year, including graduate students of Medicine and Bioengineering, Masters students and ophthalmologists. 

Benefitting developing countries

Specialists will come from countries such as Haiti, Chad, Senegal and many others, with the overall objective of improving healthcare in these countries.

Alfredo Adán, director of the Clinic’s Institution of Ophthalmology, underlined that the “objective is to contribute to the development and sustainability of these countries by facilitating training their ocular health professionals. Therefore, people with visual impairments and without economic resources will be able to call upon quality ophthalmology assistant.”

Adán also reminded that 75% of the 36 million cases of blindness in the world can be prevented or cured.

Notable figures of support 

Actor Pou has said that eight months ago he was a patient at the hospital for half a year over concerns of losing his vision. He expressed his thanks to the Clinic for curing him completely.

As for MotoGP icon Márquez, in 2011 he suffered double vision, also known as diplopia, which led to fears that he would have to give up not only his sporting career, but also basic aspects of life such as reading or walking. He underwent surgery successfully, and now wanted to contribute his own “grain of sand” to the campaign as a thank you.