Marcia Zondervan’s work in Eye Care spans more than 40 years. In 1988 she was appointed the Regional Adviser for Eye Care for West and Central Africa for CBM. Over the next 11 years she trained eye care workers from countries as far apart as Guinea Bissau and Democratic Republic of Congo and worked with many eye hospitals to improve eye care particularly in francophone Africa. After 18 years of living and working in Africa, she joined the staff of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2002 initially to undertake an Evaluation of Trachoma Control in 8 African countries and later to lead the VISION 2020 LINKS or Health Partnership programme. There are now over 30 VISION 2020 partnerships in existence that Marcia has developed over the last 14 years. One example of a successful LINK is that between COECSA (the College of Ophthalmology of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, covering 11 countries), and the Royal College of Ophthalmologist of the UK. In the decade since it was established there have been major improvements in COECSA, including development of Fellowship examinations; harmonised training curriculum in the region; research and medical leadership capacity-building. Through this link, improved quality of eye care has been provided to over 250 million people living in East and Central Africa.
A new initiative has been to develop networks of LINKS working together on specific eye care problems in multiple countries. These networks include the Diabetic Retinopathy Network, Retinoblastoma Network and the Leadership in eye care programme.
Marcia has also been responsible and led the UK International Eye Health Partnership programme over the last 14 years, and is now assisting Australia and the USA to develop similar programmes respectively in the Pacific and Latin America. Marcia combines passion for the cause, which is good accessible eye care for people living in low income settings, together with professionalism and hard work.