In September, the Pacific Outreach Team, based at the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji, travelled to Savai’i, Samoa to support the Samoan ophthalmologist, Dr Lucilla Ah Ching-Sefo and the Samoan eye care team, in running a surgical outreach. Though Savai’i is the largest island in Samoa, it is home to only a quarter of the population. It also does not have a permanent ophthalmologist, so people can only be seen when Dr Ah Ching-Sefo, based on Samoa’s main island in Apia, conducts an outreach to Savai’i, or they travel themselves to Apia.
The team travelled to Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital on Savai’i where they performed a total of 131 surgeries in just five days. Of the cataract patients operated on, 45% had bilateral cataract, which means they had little or no vision in both eyes. This high percentage further demonstrates the need for eye care in the area, which currently has a backlog of patients waiting for treatment.
Overall, it was a very successful outreach, with the highlight for many patients being that it came in time for the Rugby World Cup. They were so excited to have their vision back so they could watch their local team, Manu Samoa, play.
In addition, the Samoan Minister of Health, Hon. Valasi Tafito Selesele, thanked the team for providing quality eye care to the people of Savai’i, in particular, Dr Duke Mataka, a Tongan ophthalmologist who travelled with the Pacific Eye Institute staff, for lending his expert surgical skills.