Dr. Boateng (Bo) Wiafe, an ophthalmologist who lives and works in Ghana, currently serves as a technical advisor for Operation Eyesight. As Chair of the Primary Eye Care working group within the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), he guides others in implementing a collaborative model of primary eye health care.
With more than 35 years of experience in eye health care, Dr. Bo is recognized as an authority in the development of sustainable eye health care in Africa. Early in his career, he was one of only eight ophthalmologists in Zambia. Working strategically with the government in Zambia, he encouraged them to take a lead role in the development and implementation of quality eye health care. He also mentored and motivated other doctors to become ophthalmologists. He set new standards in volume of eye surgeries, completing 2,000 a year and engaging other ophthalmologists to undertake another 500. In addition, he launched the first primary eye care training course in Zambia. In all of the districts in which he worked, Dr. Bo established programs that still serve their communities today, most notably the Lusaka Eye Hospital.
In 2001, Dr. Bo piloted a model trachoma control program in the Gwembe District of Southern Zambia where the prevalence of trachoma was reduced from 50 percent to about 5 percent. This program is now being replicated in other trachoma-threatened districts throughout Africa.
Dr. Bo and Victoria Francis co-authored the “Healthy Eyes Activity Book,” a manual for primary schools which has been translated into several languages across the globe. Dr. Bo also authored a chapter in the “Glaucoma” textbook by Tarek Shaarawy et al., and he has contributed many articles to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s “Community Eye Health Journal.” In addition, he has lectured and served as external examiner at the Ophthalmic Training Programme in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Dr. Bo served as principal investigator and lead researcher for the first ever Blindness and Vision Impairment study commissioned by Operation Eyesight in Ghana. He developed a methodology and approach that is reliable and cost-effective, and he worked with the Ministry of Health and associated departments to draw from their expertise and knowledge. The findings of this study will help us to determine the prevalence of blindness and vision impairment in other countries to assess the need to expand our work.
In 2016, Dr. Bo was honoured by the IAPB as an Eye Health Hero at their General Assembly. This award recognizes exemplary members of the eye health sector from a variety of backgrounds who have emerged as change-makers, innovators and leaders.
Dr. Bo is also an honourary Calgarian, as he was “white-hatted” during the traditional Calgary ceremony.