Where we work

Fiji

While Fiji is a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders, many Fijians don't have access to the same type of health care as holiday makers.

What are the eye health problems?

The main cause of blindness in Fiji is cataract, with only 47.5 percent of Fijians with an operable cataract receiving surgery. The leading cause for low-vision is uncorrected refractive error, which in most cases can be fixed with a pair of glasses.

Pacific Island nations are some of the worst affected by diabetes, accounting for seven of the top ten countries with the highest rate of diabetes. This has led to diabetic eye disease becoming the third most common cause of low-vision in Fiji.

A large proportion of the country’s eye care workforce is based in Suva, making regular outreaches to rural locations a necessity. There's a lack of resources at smaller eye care clinics throughout Fiji, and travel costs — along with difficulty in physically accessing services — are a barrier for many patients.

Our work in Fiji

Fiji has one of the largest populations in the Pacific Islands and requires a robust eye care workforce to cater for eye health needs. We've had a presence in the country since 2002, sending outreach teams throughout the year to provide eye care services to people in need.

In 2002, there was no eye care training for nurses in Fiji and the only eye care training available for doctors was in Papua New Guinea. To counter this, we built the Pacific Eye Institute in Suva, and have been providing eye care training programmes there since 2006.

The Pacific Eye Institute is a hub for eye care expertise in the Pacific, not only providing training for the eye care sector throughout the Pacific region, but also delivering the full range of eye care services within Suva’s public hospital. The Institute is also a base for the region’s Pacific outreach team — a team of Pacific Island doctors and nurses who travel across the region to provide eye care services to people in need.

In 2015, we launched the Mobile Eye Clinic, a full-service clinic that travels around and between Fiji’s two main islands. This mobile service has improved access to eye care for Fijians living in remote areas, with screening teams travelling ahead to small villages and referring patients back to the nearby Mobile Eye Clinic for treatment.

Our goal is to continue training eye care workers for the Pacific region at the Pacific Eye Institute and maintain it as an eye care hub for the Pacific.

The team get together to discuss the programme for the day, which will involve consultations, surgeries and follow-ups.
Mere's sight was restored after a cataract operation

Progress in sight

  • In 2016, 61 percent of the surgeries were performed on outreach, either through the Mobile Eye Clinic or the Pacific outreach team, making sight-saving treatment more accessible for the population.
  • The Mobile Eye Clinic has been a very successful means to distribute spectacles to the Fijian population with over 4,000 pairs of glasses dispensed in 2016.
  • In 2015 and 2016, 338 community health nurses and other primary health carers were trained in diabetic eye disease.
  • To date, eight eye doctors and 36 eye nurses from Fiji have been trained at the Pacific Eye Institute.

In 2016, the Pacific Eye Institute team and local hospital staff in Suva performed:

  • 32,955 consultations
  • 2,573 surgeries
  • 1,354 laser treatment sessions

Where we work

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