Rita was invited to work with Second Sight, a charity working to eliminate blindness due to cataracts in India. She describes this work as ‘life-changing for both patient and doctor’. Now Rita teaches and trains senior surgeons, junior doctors and nurses in Tanzania and Papua New Guinea for two charities, CBM – an overseas disability charity – and the Fred Hollows Foundation which works to restore sight in countries around the world.
She says: “I was initially attracted to these charities because I wanted to work where I could leave behind trained staff in the country to continue the good work. Although we do high-volume work and run ‘flying and boat doctor’ services, there is a vacuum of trained staff when I leave.
“At the beginning, I would give up my leave from the NHS to work abroad but soon realised that longer periods were needed. I resigned my job and now go to Africa and the Pacific for up to 12 week periods. I work as required, there is no timetable – I returned from Tanzania after a three-month spell earlier this year and will go back to Papua New Guinea this summer to run a training course.
“My work overseas is so much busier than my medical work back home, and much more varied. Aside from the obvious emotional benefits I take away with me, it has enormous advantages for my proficiency. It is fully demanding of all my skills and experience and in taking part, I keep multi-skilled.”
“I love the travel but most of all I love contributing to the training and teaching of so many wonderful and receptive trainees who really value the opportunity for education and achieving skills. It is also challenging which keeps me stimulated and I return to my regular work refreshed and keen to continue!”
Fred Hollows Foundation
Dr Rita Ohri is a senior ophthalmic surgeon based in London and an honorary consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital.