Read about our March 2015 visit to Burundi.

The Republic of Burundi is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of Southeast Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west.

Bujumbura is Burundi’s capital, adjacent to Lake Tanganyika. The latter is the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, in both cases, after only Lake Baikal in Siberia. it is also the world’s longest freshwater lake and the body of water with one of the highest concentrations of heavy water.

Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika

Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world. It has one of the lowest per capita GDPs of any nation in the world. The country has suffered from warfare, corruption and poor access to education. Burundi is densely populated and has had substantial emigration as young people seek opportunities elsewhere. According to a 2012 DHL Global Connectedness Index, Burundi is the least globalized of 140 surveyed countries.

According to the Global Hunger Index of 2013, Burundi has an indicator ratio of 38.8, earning the nation the distinction of being the hungriest country in the world in terms of percentage.

Currently, for a population of about 10 million, Burundi does not have a retina specialist. They have a few ophthalmologists, including Dr Levi Kandeke with his two associates in Bujumbura, Dr Chantal Giramahoro in Ngozi, and Dr John Cropsey in Kibuye.

As in any other part of the world, Burundians have an increasing prevalence of diabetes, which is not well cared for, and hence some of them develop diabetic retinopathy. There is also significant number of patients with ocular trauma. With no easily accessible help available, most of these patients with traumatic cataract, corneal and scleral wounds, vitreous hemorrhage, retinal detachment and even intraocular foreign bodies show up late for management, thus complicating the treatment options available to them.

We hope to improve the current scenario by:

  1. Providing retinal care to the people of Burundi on a frequent basis in the short term
  2. Identifying young Burundian ophthalmologists who are in residency training at this time, and support their retinal training.
  3. Helping set up infrastructure and/or provide retinal instrumentation for retinal care in the country.

We hope our efforts will lead to a sustainable solution to the people of Burundi.