Solomon Islands | The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

Solomon Islands

Ophthalmology students, Nola and Claude, perform surgery. Photo: Kristian Frires

Ophthalmology students, Nola and Claude, perform surgery. Photo: Kristian Frires

The original home of the Pacific Eye Institute, The Foundation has long standing and effective programs established in the Solomon Islands including several local leaders who advocate for eye health in the nation.


Patients waiting to be seen at a Solomon Islands surgical outreach visit. Photo: Kristian FriresThe Solomon Islands are more than 900 islands situated to the east of New Guinea and north-west of Vanuatu. With a history of conflict, the country seems to be at a relatively stable point after the civil war of 1998 to 2003, and the more recent post-election riots in 2006. Unfortunately, unemployment remains high and there is a significant youth population (38% under 14 years).

The Solomon Islands have eye nurses at each of the seven provincial hospitals and the two mission hospitals, but the facilities, equipment, and primary eye care units are of varying states.

Cataract remains the leading cause of blindness in the Solomon Islands despite a relatively high surgical rate (1,000 per million population per year), which signals the significant backlog that exists. More eye health personnel and upgrades to facilities are needed to see to the thousands of needlessly blind in the Solomon Islands.

Achievements: 2014

  • 1,046 surgeries performed by Foundation trained graduates
  • Conducted 1 surgical outreach visit where we performed 57 sight-restoring surgeries. 

About the program

The Fred Hollows Foundation has trained a number of Solomon Island locals, including four nurses who completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Eye Care in 2006 when the Pacific Eye Institute was located in Honiara. Some of these graduates have emerged as clinical leaders and are now involved in the training of other doctors and nurses in Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Ongoing surgical outreach and workforce support visits have taken place since the Pacific Eye Institute relocated to Fiji at the end of 2006.

Two Solomon Island eye nurses have just graduated with their Postgraduate Diploma in Eye Care and have just returned to the Solomon Islands.

Together with our partners, The Foundation has:

  • Trained 21 eye nurses and 4 eye doctors

Facts and figures

Eye health
Prevalence of blindness  0.9%
Number of eye doctors 2 (2 in training)
Number of eye doctors needed 7
Number of eye nurses 16
Number of eye nurses needed 26
Number of diabetes eye nurses 2
Number of diabetes eye nurses needed by 2020 10
General health
Population  550,000 
Urban population 20%
Life expectancy 70
Adult literacy rate N/A
Under-5 mortality rate (per 1,000 births) 31
Number of doctors (per 10,000 people) 2.2

Source: World Health Organization: Solomon Islands, International human development indicators: Solomon Islands, UNDP.
NB: Number of eye nurses includes those trained by The Foundation currently working as eye nurses. Number of eye doctors includes all doctors with MMed.

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What we can do

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