St John Patient Journey Gaza

The patient journey of those screened for Diabetic Retinopathy in Gaza

  • 12 Nov 2019

Fida Abu Ali project manages our Diabetic Retinopathy Screening and Research (DRS) project in the Gaza Strip. To date, she has published one paper on the subject and has seven further articles to be published in 2020. Below she explains the importance of her work:

This project has been essential in establishing local eye screening services across the Gaza Strip. This service had never been offered before in Gaza and was especially effective as we partnered with general UNRWA medical clinics. We have discovered thousands of cases of undiagnosed diabetic retinopathy and have been able to refer these patients for further treatment to manage their condition at St John Eye Hospital in Gaza.

I met several challenges during the course of this project. The DRS project is not just a one-off ‘test’ it is a pathway where our patients are offered eye screening, diagnosis, referral for further treatment and ultimately, ideally, management of their condition. My project planning has to ensure that this pathway has all necessary steps: correct patient information for consent, trained professionals, easy access to screening, and making sure there is support and encouragement available for the individual through their whole experience with us.

Another challenge I faced is to work with patients to overcome unique factors which may prevent them from reaching the end of their treatment journeys. There are a variety of factors to consider, including culture, past experiences, personal values and beliefs, friends’ experiences, fears and phobias.

My ultimate aim is to ensure these projects are enacted to the high standards expected of anything enacted by St John Eye Hospital. They have a reputation across Palestine of ophthalmic excellence – it is our jobs as staff and trainers at St John to ensure these standards are kept.