23 Jun 2015

More eye care training for the Pacific

8:42 am on 23 June 2015

The Fred Hollows Foundation in New Zealand says the new regional centre in Solomon Islands will fill an important training gap for tertiary eye care in the Pacific.

The mobile eye clinic will travel into rural Fijian communities that wouldn’t otherwise have access to eye care. By breaking down accessibility barriers, it will help clear the backlog of avoidable blindness in Fiji and tackle the growing issue of diabetes-related eye disease.

The Fred Hollows Foundation opened a mobile eye clinic in rural Fiji earlier this year. Photo: Michael Bradley - Fred Hollows Foundation

The 3.2 million dollar facility, which is funded by the New Zealand aid programme and opens next month, will increase the capacity for eye operations in the Pacific by 30 percent.

The executive director of the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, Andrew Bell, says the centre will include built in training facilities.

"We do envisage that it will have a regional role within the Pacific Region. It gives us another regional centre that we can work in tandem with the Pacific eye institute in Suva and together they can give coverage to the whole of the Pacific region."

Mr Bell says the centre will by staffed by Solomon Islands eye care nurses and ophthamologists most of whom have been training with the Fred Hollows Foundation since 2006.