The team at the Madang Provincial Hospital Eye Clinic were excited to receive a visit from New Zealand's High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Peter Zwart, last week. This visit demonstrates the strong partnership between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea and the shared commitment to improving access to essential eye care services.
High Commissioner Zwart was warmly received by staff and local officials and given a comprehensive tour of the clinic, including the innovative solar system, which was installed last year to help ensure the clinic's operating theatre has a reliable power supply. The Madang Provincial Hospital Eye Clinic, supported by The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, is a significant provider of eye care services in Papua New Guinea, so this visit was an excellent opportunity to showcase the clinic's facilities and the impact it has on the local community.
Last year alone the Madang Provincial Hospital Eye Clinic ran 6,976 eye consultations, performed 268 sight-saving surgeries, and dispensed 1,615 spectacles. Through its outreach programme, the team reached another 6,097 people across Papua New Guinea who might not otherwise have accessed eye care. In partnership with the Divine Word University, the Madang Provincial Hospital Eye Clinic also offers the only training programme for eye nurses in Papua New Guinea. This collaboration has seen 111 eye nurses complete an eye care qualification and 34 general nurses or health workers complete a short training in primary eye care.
As well as meeting the staff, High Commissioner Zwart was able to meet several patients who were in for treatment and see first-hand the difference the clinic makes. One of these was Peter, a bilateral cataract patient who had his second eye operation last week and had specifically come in after hearing about the upcoming visit. He was so excited to be able to present a gift to the High Commissioner and thank the people of New Zealand. "If it wasn't for the people of New Zealand supporting this eye clinic, I wouldn't see again."
During the visit, High Commissioner Zwart expressed New Zealand's commitment to supporting initiatives that improve healthcare access and quality of life in Papua New Guinea, emphasising the importance of eye care and the life-changing work being done at the clinic. This visit serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of such collaborations in strengthening health systems and ensuring communities across Papua New Guinea can access quality eye care.