Where we work

Fiji

Fiji is a popular holiday destination, yet many Fijians don’t have access to the same level of health care as we do.

What are the eye health problems?

The main cause of blindness is cataract, with only 47.5 per cent of Fijians accessing the sight-restoring surgery they need. The leading cause for low-vision is uncorrected refractive error, which in most cases can be easily fixed with a pair of glasses. Pacific Island nations make up seven of the top ten countries in the world with the highest rate of diabetes, and diabetic eye disease is quickly becoming the third most common cause of low-vision in Fiji.

Most of the country’s eye care workers are based in Suva, and outreach teams travel regularly to rural areas to reach people in need. Smaller eye clinics throughout Fiji are under-resourced, and travel costs, plus the physical difficulty of getting around, are barriers for many people.

Our work in Fiji

In 2002, there was no eye care training available for nurses in the Pacific Islands, and the only eye care training for doctors was in Papua New Guinea. In 2006 we built the Pacific Eye Institute in Suva. It provides eye care training for doctors and nurses from across the Pacific region. It also offers a full range of eye care services at Suva’s public hospital and is the base for our outreach team. Made up of trained Pacific Island doctors and nurses, the team travels around the region providing eye care services to people in need.

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

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

  • 10 eye doctors and 43 eye nurses from Fiji have been trained at the Pacific Eye Institute. Four doctors and one nurse are training in 2018.
  • Foundation-trained eye doctors are now based in Lautoka in the West and Labasa in the North. With the support of trained eye nurses they screen and treat patients.
  • The Mobile Eye Clinic team had a 78 per cent increase in patient consultations in 2017. They performed 596 sight-saving surgeries and dispensed 7,250 spectacles.
  • Health promotion activities are raising awareness of eye health and the risk of diabetic retinopathy. In 2017 a television advert resulted in an 81 per cent increase in the number of new patients accessing the diabetes eye clinic.

Where we work

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