Background/Aims The International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO) offers fellowship programmes to help young ophthalmologists, mainly from low-resource countries, improve their practical or research skills in ophthalmology subspecialty areas. Using questionnaires, the objective of the present study was to evaluate how the ICO Fellowship Programme has impacted on improving knowledge, skills and the careers of young ophthalmologists from low-resource countries.
Methods From 2001 to 2019 overall 1140 ICO fellowships were awarded. A questionnaire was sent to ICO fellows after the conclusion of their fellowship and another 3 years later. Part 1 contained 26 questions, while Part 2 had 21 questions. The answers were collected through an online platform and analysed descriptively thereafter.
Results 1101 Part 1 questionnaires had been sent to former fellows, with a return rate of 47% (516 responses) and 829 Part 2 questionnaires with a return rate of 47% (390 responses). Overall, 98.3% strongly or somewhat agreed that knowledge in their subspecialty has improved considerably. Whereas only 19% of them held a lecturer, senior lecturer or head of subspecialty department position prior to the fellowship, 46% of them held such a position 3 years after the fellowship was completed.
Conclusions The ICO Fellowship Programmes aim to promote the enhancement of eye care delivery and eye health in low-resource countries, the professional development of young leaders and the improvement of eye care. The results of the current study confirm the expectation of such a positive impact. Moreover, almost half of the responding participants have been appointed to a local leadership position in their home country.
- Medical Education
- Public health
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Contributors EAT-N: data analysis/interpretation, drafting and critical revision of the manuscript; CG-O: concept and design, data acquisition, statistical analysis, data analysis/interpretation, critical revision of the manuscript; PG: concept and design, data acquisition, critical revision of the manuscript, and supervision; BG, PW, HRT, CD: concept and design, critical revision of the manuscript, and supervision; NQ: concept and design, and critical revision of the manuscript; BS: data analysis/interpretation, concept and design, critical revision of the manuscript, and supervision.
Funding Torres-Netto was recipient of the inaugural International Council of Ophthalmology Advanced Research Fellowship Award. Theother authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.
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