Humanitarian awards given for outstanding service around the world

October 24, 2004

Peter R. Egbert, MD, and Marilyn J. Scudder, MD, have spent their lives in service to destitute people living in some of the most economically underdeveloped areas of the world.

New Orleans-Peter R. Egbert, MD, and Marilyn J. Scudder, MD, have spent their lives in service to destitute people living in some of the most economically underdeveloped areas of the world.

For their work, they were honored Sunday with Outstanding Humanitarian Service Awards from the American Academy of Ophthalmology during opening ceremonies of its joint meeting with the European Society of Ophthalmology here.

The awards, presented once in an individual's lifetime, recognize a pattern of "exceptional humanitarian service" in the United States or abroad.

Dr. Egbert, an ophthalmology professor at Stanford University, has provided ophthalmic care in more than 25 countries, including Haiti, Nepal, Afghanistan, Western Samoa, Botswana, Honduras, and Ghana, West Africa.

With support from International Aidís Christian Eye Ministry, Dr. Egbert helped establish the first eye clinic in Cape Coast, Ghana, in 1987, and three more eye clinics since then. He has trained local doctors, clinicians, and volunteers to make the centers self-sufficient. He has influenced patient care in underdeveloped regions by performing studies on cataract and glaucoma treatment in Ghana and other countries. Dr. Egbert returns to the eye centers each year, mostly as a volunteer, with help from an occasional research stipend or sabbatical.

Dr. Scudder, a retired ophthalmologist from New Brighton, MN, spent most of her career in Tanzania. She started as head of the Eye Department at Mvumi Hospital in Mvumi Mission in 1970. In 1973, she began a 20-year span as head of the ophthalmology department of the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, under the sponsorship of Christian Blind Mission International. In 1994, she returned to Mvumi Hospital to improve its eye department.

In addition, she traveled by single-engine plane up to 600 miles from Kilimanjaro to provide eye exams, operations, and training at rural hospitals throughout the region.

Alan D. Jensen, MD, the AAO president, said Drs. Egbert and Scudder exemplify what many physicians are doing to provide service to medically underserved people in the United States and abroad.