This installment of the Patient InSIGHT story is a bit different. We wanted to provide a real-life example of how the work of Cure Glaucoma Foundation and one of its mission programs came full circle to help Tosin Olajide-Alabi find some assistance with her medication.
Cure Glaucoma Foundation’s Glaucoma Drainage Device (GDD) Program was born out of the need to provide glaucoma care to millions of underserved glaucoma patients in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions.
Dr. Tosin Smith, a Cure Glaucoma Foundation Director, founded the GDD Program. She stated, “I began to think about better ways of equipping the physicians in the different regions and how we could make a positive impact with continued care for the visually impaired patients they treat—the thought being that better skillsets and equipment would impact more people and affect more lives in a positive manner. As a result, we developed a way to train qualified physicians in the Glaucoma Drainage Device implant procedure.”
The Glaucoma Drainage Device program was created with two central goals in mind. The first is to train doctors who are highly skilled and strategically located in different regions of the country. These doctors will then train other doctors in the procedures. The second element is to provide ongoing support with the medical resources necessary for the physicians to deliver effective treatments, thus enabling the program to continue to grow.
“Teaching is one of the most important things you can do, because it potentially impacts the whole nation,” said Dr. Smith.
In February 2021, with the second class of 18 physicians from Nigeria and Kenya approaching graduation from the GDD Mission Outreach program, Cure Glaucoma Foundation received an email from Mrs. Tosin Olajide-Alabi, who lives in Lagos, Nigeria. Tosin wrote, “I was diagnosed with glaucoma. I have been paying for my medical bills, but presently I could not. Please help me with glaucoma eyedrops and drugs or financial assistance for my medical bills. I don’t want to lose my vision.”
Because Tosin is in Nigeria, we immediately thought of the GDD program since it is being administered to doctors in that area. Dr. Smith, who runs the GDD Mission Outreach Program, offered that the quickest available option was for Tosin to contact Dr. Ogunro and Dr. Olowaolaiyemo, two of the GDD physicians at the Eye Foundation Hospital in Ijebu. Fortunately, the Hospital was a short drive away, and Tosin informed us that she went for an eye examination at the Eye Foundation Hospital a week later.
We interviewed Tosin at the end of March to find out about her experience after this initial contact.
Tosin grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and is married and the mother of two daughters. At the age of 18, she noticed a decline in her vision, but she did not seek medical treatment at this time because her parents told her it was a local disease. Later, Tosin asked to go to the eye hospital and was told she had glaucoma. It was so expensive to treat, even the checkup was 10,000 naira ($27 USD).
Since her diagnosis, Tosin has paid her own bills, but recently found that she was struggling to afford one of her medications. She went to the Internet to find support and came across Cure Glaucoma Foundation and reached out to see if they could provide any assistance.
Dr. Smith advised Dr. Ogunro and Dr. Olowolaiyemo at the Eye Foundation Hospital in Ijebu of Tosin’s situation and put them in contact with Tosin. She advised Tosin that these local doctors would guide the next steps in her treatment.
Five days later, Tosin had an appointment at the Eye Foundation Hospital. She was able to pay for the visit due to its low cost. The visit was significantly less expensive than her previous eye doctor. She was prescribed the eyedrops she needed in a different brand, which was much more affordable. Physicians performed a comprehensive eye exam and got her back on the road to good care.
According to Tosin, “I’m so happy for your referral because I wouldn’t have known that a place like that was in Nigeria. Please thank Dr. Smith for me and let her know that I am fine now!”
We thank Tosin for this interview and send her all our best wishes. We also thank Dr. Ogunro, Dr. Olowolaiyemo and the Eye Foundation Hospital in Ijebu for the extraordinary and timely care they provided to Mrs. Tosin Olajide-Alabi!
If you find yourself in need of vision care assistance, Cure Glaucoma Foundation has compiled a list of resources at the link below.