Striving towards inclusive eye care in Madang

In March this year, our team in Madang, Papua New Guinea, worked with local partners to conduct the first outreach to include the collection of disability data. This is a stride towards our goal of providing quality and inclusive eye care by integrating Gender, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) activities into our programmes.

This initiative was supported by a partnership with Creative Self Help, a local disability organisation that provided disability awareness training to the eye health staff. This training equipped the team with skills to identify and support patients with disabilities effectively. They were then able to visit a disability school and the homes of people with disabilities to provide care.

Ruthy Wong, a nurse who underwent the training, shared her experience: "It was very challenging to examine one patient on the slit lamp, he didn’t cooperate, a nurse walked into the room, the patient was distracted, and I had to start all over again. Thanks to the Creative Self Help Disability Centre for the training in upskilling us on how to manage such a patient in our clinic. During the training we learnt the Right Based Model to approach a patient with disability".

During the outreach, the team screened 300 patients and identified 30 individuals with disabilities in addition to vision impairment. They also performed 83 eye surgeries, 62 of which were for cataracts.

Momois and her sister, Carol
Momois and her sister, Carol

One of the patients who underwent surgery was Momois, a 60-year-old woman who faced multiple challenges. Widowed with young children, she lost hearing in her left ear after an injury and began losing sight in her right eye in 2021. Her vision deteriorated, causing her to become blind in one eye. Her sister Carol, who provided daily care, brought her to our outreach after hearing about it from the team at Yagaum Rural Hospital.

Momois was diagnosed with bilateral cataracts and underwent successful surgery. Post-surgery, she was all smiles. Momois told us how she was grateful to have a second chance to see again and to do things like her normal daily chores on her own.

This outreach not only provided essential surgeries but also set a precedent for integrating disability considerations into our activities. We are committed to continuing this approach, ensuring that every patient receives the care and support they need.

Thank you to the Madang Provincial Health Authority (MPHA) for their support of this outreach, including providing transport for patients with disabilities and those who live out of town.

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