Across the Pacific, the number of people desperately needing eye care grew larger and larger every day that our clinics were closed during the pandemic last year. Our clinics and operating theatres have since re-opened, and our teams are back carrying out in-country Outreaches now domestic travel is once again possible. But our more experienced surgical Outreach team members, like Dr John Szetu and Dr Mundi Qoqonokana, are still unable to travel to support the local teams. As a result, the patient backlog is getting bigger and bigger, especially for difficult cases.
We are proud to work in partnership with the various Ministries of Health around the region. They support us in many ways, but their budgets have been repurposed for the COVID-19 effort. Their governments are dealing with decimated economies.
This year the team will have to work long and hard to get on top of the backlog. Right now, we are planning for more surgeries, more patient consultations and more Outreaches.
We plan to spend almost double on in-country Outreaches next year, where our eye doctors travel to isolated areas within their own countries to provide eye care services.
That's nearly $300,000 more than we had originally planned for 2020.
Our teams are already asking for support they previously didn't need to meet the backlog and get ready for the future: