Meet Dr. Fatima Ibrahim and Dr. Maryam Abdullahi

Dr. Fatima Ibrahim and Dr. Maryam Abdullahi collaborate at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital in Nigeria, where they provide dedicated care to both pediatric and adult patients. Dr. Ibrahim, who wishes to specialize in pediatric ophthalmology, is currently involved in treating various eye conditions, including most of Retinoblastoma cases while Dr. Abdullahi, who has interest in glaucoma and retinoblastoma is also involved in handling a substantial number of RB cases referred to their hospital. Unfortunately, over 75% of the patients presenting with RB at their hospital have advanced stage extraocular disease, limiting treatment options.

In a conversation with Know The Glow, these two remarkable doctors expressed their enthusiasm for raising awareness about leukocoria within the Kano community. Their goal is to identify children earlier, enabling timely intervention. Given that many families in communities in the outskirts of Kano don’t have access to smartphones and  media beyond radio and printed materials, the discussion shifted towards incorporating images from KTG into ongoing outreach efforts related to vision care and pediatric health. The aim is to enhance the training of medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, in identifying leukocoria and achieving earlier referrals through heightened awareness.

Several ideas were explored, including the identification of families willing to share their journeys, appointing a local ambassador for ongoing collaboration with KTG upon the completion of the Nigeria Social Media campaign in mid-March, and utilizing local radio and traditional media for spreading awareness. Banners and flyers could play a crucial role, especially in the primary children’s hospitals and schools. Additionally, posters in these institutions could reach a broader audience. The proposal also included using banners or posters to announce in health clinics and eye camps, encouraging attendance, and building awareness about observing the glow in dim lighting or the flash in the eye near a window or while putting a child to bed.

Recognizing the pivotal role played by nurses in Kano, the idea of a webinar for nurses was discussed. This webinar would incorporate KTG messaging, parent testimonials, and doctor education on differential diagnoses, ensuring that medical personnel involved in vision screening are well-prepared to advocate for early referrals.

Dr. Abdullahi and Dr. Ibrahim expressed their anticipation about learning more about the Arclight Scope and its potential as a screening tool in remote villages. They also welcomed the support from the recently established Kano Children’s Cancer Foundation.

While there is immense potential, the challenges in Kano are substantial. Megan and Helene engaged in discussions with the doctors on ways to bring attention to these efforts and challenges. Their hope is to continue building connections with other organizations and medical centers working towards finding, treating, and supporting families dealing with vision problems in Nigeria. The ultimate goal is to see how awareness and education can lead to more children receiving timely care, allowing for the early identification and treatment of retinoblastoma by these dedicated medical teams.