The Samoa Ministry of Health (The Ministry) and The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ (The Foundation) have signed a new five-year partnership agreement, from 2023 – 2028, with the overall goal of reducing avoidable blindness and vision impairment in Samoa.
Both organisations have a long-standing successful relationship spanning nearly two decades and have made significant progress in strengthening Samoa’s eye health system and enabling access to quality eye care to tens of thousands of Samoans.
The partnership recognises that good vision and eye health enables broader development objectives including over half of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as those linked to health and wellbeing, poverty, hunger, equity, education, gender equality, and economic development.
This progress has included the training of 17 eye nurses and an ophthalmologist, ongoing workforce training and development, and service design and expansion through adequate medicines, equipment, consumables, and spectacle supplies.
Over the last 10 years, The Ministry and The Foundation have also worked together to support the Pacific Outreach Team, based out of Fiji, to conduct nine surgical outreach visits to Samoa to complement existing eye care services.
The Samoa Director General of Health, Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma, says, “Over the years we have worked closely with The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ to strengthen Samoa’s eye health system. This has resulted in a strong relationship, and we are looking forward to continuing to work together to train more doctors and nurses and expand quality eye health services for our people. We also want to have an increased understanding of our eye health landscape, meaning good quality data and research is a priority.”
Dr Audrey Aumua, Chief Executive Officer of The Foundation, says, “We look forward to being part of Samoa’s journey as they continue to grow their eye health system to meet the needs of all Samoans, regardless of where they live. It also reflects The Foundation’s commitment to work respectfully with Pacific governments and stakeholders as they continue to determine, lead, and strengthen their own eye health systems.”
The new five-year partnership aims to achieve the following shared objectives:
A key immediate priority for the partnership is the training of a second ophthalmologist and additional eye nurses. The Ministry also intends to undertake a national eye health prevalence survey (Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness) to generate critical data on the status of avoidable vision loss in Samoa.
The new partnership contributes to the vision of A Healthy Samoa as articulated in the Samoa Health Sector Plan FY2019/20 – FY2029/30, as well as the mission of enhancing public health to provide people-centred health services.