The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ today announces the launch of a new mobile eye clinic for Fiji. Designed, produced and funded by New Zealanders, the clinic is the first of its kind in the Pacific region: a state-of-the-art 11.5 metre facility which will travel to remote parts of Fiji, providing sight-saving services to blind people in need.
The mobile eye clinic represents a gift to the people of Fiji and will allow for an estimated 1,000 additional cataract surgeries and 1,250 diabetic retinopathy laser treatments to be performed each year in addition to the existing services available through The Foundation’s Pacific Eye Institute, a permanent Suva-based eye centre.
Andrew Bell, Executive Director at The Foundation stressed the impact the clinic will have for Fijians in need.
“This is the first time that a travelling clinic of this nature has been deployed in the Pacific. To have all our medical equipment aboard the vehicle and be a one-stop-shop for free eye checks, cataract surgery, diabetic retinopathy laser treatment and a range of other eye conditions is nothing short of remarkable.”
Bell says, “It’s our hope that this clinic will help to eliminate what is an enormous hurdle in eye care: access. We know that for transport and financial reasons, there are patients who simply can’t reach us. So we’re taking our clinic straight to our patients instead, going into remote communities where people won’t have to travel so far to get help.”
“By breaking down accessibility barriers, we hope to help clear the backlog of avoidable blindness in Fiji and tackle the issue of diabetes-related eye disease which we already know is on the rise right across the Pacific region.”
Construction and furnishing of the clinic with equipment totalled approximately NZD$750,000 with funding provided by a range of New Zealand donors. The clinic was designed and built in Hamilton by Action Motor Bodies who specialise in transport engineering.
The positive effects of treating avoidable blindness are far-reaching. It’s estimated that the economic benefits of eliminating avoidable blindness and visual impairment outweighs the costs of providing treatment by a factor of four to one (see the Pricewaterhouse Coopers 2013 report Investing in Vision – Comparing the costs and benefits of eliminating avoidable blindness and visual impairment). Restoring sight also results in better health and social outcomes, improving the quality of life for individuals and their communities.