IMAGE: Papua New Guinea’s Acting Deputy Secretary for Health Ms Elva Lionel, signs Memorandum of Understanding with Sir Maarten Wevers, Deputy Chair of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Deputy Chair of The Foundation, Sir Maarten Wevers and Papua New Guinea’s Acting Deputy Secretary for Health Ms Elva Lionel, and was witnessed by the NZ High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Her Excellency Sue Mackwell.
The document outlines the commitment of both The Foundation and the Government of Papua New Guinea to ensure that all people have access to high quality eye care, provided by a skilled local eye care workforce, in a supportive, sustainable healthcare environment. With a blindness rate of 5.6% in adults over 50, Papua New Guinea has the highest rate of blindness in the Pacific region, with women disproportionately affected. These shocking statistics highlight the urgent need for all stakeholders to continue working together to increase people’s access to eye health services.
The signing of the MoU was followed by a reception held at the NZ High Commissioner’s residence in Port Moresby, recognising the significant contributions the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade New Zealand Aid Programme and the New Zealand public have made to The Foundation’s work in the country.
As well as the signing of the MoU, the event celebrated what The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ has achieved in Papua New Guinea so far. Over the last 11 years, The Foundation has worked with local eye care and health organisations, the National Department of Health, and provincial health authorities to design and implement an approach to tackling avoidable blindness and vision impairment. This has included training 86 specialist eye care nurses and supporting them to deliver high quality eye care to their communities, mostly through outreaches and surgical services provided at The Foundation’s training clinic at Modilon General Hospital in Madang. The Foundation also supports the training of ophthalmologists.
While The Foundation is proud of what has been achieved in Papua New Guinea, they, along with the Government of Papua New Guinea recognise that more needs to be done. The Foundation is committed to working alongside it’s partners to address the burden of blindness and vision impairment and to continue training and supporting the local workforce.