At the end of last year, an Outreach Team from Papua New Guinea (PNG) conducted a two-week outreach at the Kainantu Rural Hospital in Kainantu, a small town in the Eastern Highlands. This outreach, funded by the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), is part of an ongoing project to strengthen eye care services in PNG. During their visit, the Outreach Team saw 1,785 patients, performed 374 surgeries and dispensed 642 pairs of spectacles. While these results are impressive, they speak volumes about the pressing need for eye care services in the area, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A key factor in the outreach's success was the close collaboration between the visiting Outreach Team and the local staff, who helped to pre-screen patients and assist with admin and logistics. Their collective effort meant they could provide eye care to more individuals, despite the challenging circumstances.
Among the many patients seen, a significant number were bilateral cataract cases. Due to the high volume of people who showed up, the team decided to focus on operating on one eye in bilateral cataract cases, allowing them to treat as many people as possible.
While a large number of patients were seen, almost 1,000 are still on the waiting list. This backlog, coupled with the shortage of eye doctors and eye nurses, underlines the ongoing need for eye care services in the region, which we will continue to address alongside Provincial Health Authorities and our partners.