A cutting-edge first for the Pacific Eye Institute

For the first time in the Pacific region, eye care graduates at the Pacific Eye Institute in Suva, Fiji, are being trained to undertake complex eye surgeries.

In partnership with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) in Fiji, the Pacific Eye Institute has introduced phacoemulsification and vitrectomy* surgical training, following the installation of new equipment that can provide these services.

The new equipment and surgical training will enable the Colonial War Memorial Hospital, the main hospital in Suva, Fiji, to provide a range of complex eye surgeries that were previously unavailable. This includes vitreo-retinal surgeries, a treatment for people with advanced diabetic eye disease. Previously, patients in Fiji have had to travel to New Zealand, Australia, or India for these types of surgeries.

The MHMS will work with other Pacific Ministries of Health to transport and treat patients in Fiji for eye surgeries they would have otherwise had to go further abroad for – a fantastic Pacific-to-Pacific initiative.

The equipment was generously funded by the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and the Australian High Commission.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes says, “Australia is pleased to support Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services with the state-of-the-art equipment that will make eye surgeries more accessible for Fijians who might not be able to access overseas treatment”.

Kirti Prasad, General Manager of the Pacific Eye Institute, says, “the introduction of phacoemulsification and vitrectomy surgical training is a Pacific-first and speaks to our constant drive to be innovative. We are always looking for ways to provide patients with eye care services that they were not previously able to access.”

Dr Subash Bhatta, from the Pacific Eye Institute, is leading the phacoemulsification and vitrectomy surgical training of the eye care graduates.

“With the installation of the new equipment and the subsequent phacoemulsification and vitrectomy surgical training of the eye care graduates, we are now able to treat a wide array of complex eye diseases, such as advanced diabetic eye diseases and retinal detachments, within Fiji. This has helped to alleviate the need for expensive and stressful overseas referrals for patients, as they can now have these sight-restoring surgeries close to home. This is definitely a huge step in the fight against avoidable blindness in the region.”

The Pacific Eye Institute was established by The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ in Suva, Fiji, in 2006. The Institute offers a wide range of eye care services and provides postgraduate eye care training for doctors and nurses, that integrate with the local healthcare system.

*Phacoemulsification is a modern-day cataract surgery that employs ultrasound energy to emulsify the nucleus, vacuum to catch the nuclear material, and irrigation and aspiration for cortex and viscoelastic removal. A typical phaco machine consists of a handpiece, foot pedal, irrigation, and aspiration system. A vitrectomy is a type of eye surgery to treat various problems with the retina and vitreous. During the surgery, your surgeon removes the vitreous and replaces it with another solution. The vitreous is a gel-like substance that fills the middle portion of your eye.

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