The Foundation is developing a plan with the Ministry of Health to train two eye health workers to set up an eye health service for Tuvalu.
Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world and is almost entirely dependent on imported food and fuel to serve its population of 11,000. The people of Tuvalu are densely packed into a scattered group of 9 coral atolls, with poor soil, no streams or rivers and undrinkable (salt) groundwater.
The prevalence of blindness in Tuvalu is estimated at 0.7 per cent, with the major causes being cataract and diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes is a significant problem with 26 per cent of the population reported as known diabetics. Like its dependence on imported goods, Tuvalu has no eye health workforce and relies on access to services from elsewhere; visiting teams from various organisations have been able to perform limited cataract operations for some people on Tuvalu.
About the program
The Fred Hollows Foundation is working with the Ministry of Health in Tuvalu to develop a plan to train eye health staff to serve the small population on Tuvalu.
The aim is to train two eye nurses or community health workers so that patients in need of sight-restoring surgery can be referred to a neighbouring island, and visiting teams can be managed. The Foundation aims to set up an eye health workforce and ensure sufficient support is provided given the challenges of providing eye services in such an isolated place.
Facts and figures
|Prevalence of blindness||0.7%|
|Main causes of blindness||cataract, diabetic retinopathy|
|Number of eye nurses||0|
|Number of eye nurses needed||1|
|Number of diabetes eye nurses||0|
|Number of diabetes eye nurses needed||1|
|Life expectancy||67.2 years|
|Adult literacy rate||95%|
|Under-5 mortality rate (per 1,000 births)||35|
|Number of doctors (per 1,000 people)||6.4|
Source: World Health Organization: Tuvalu, International Human Development Indicators: Tuvalu, UNDP.
NB: Number of eye nurses includes those trained by The Foundation currently working as eye nurses.