The country’s only eye doctor graduated from the Pacific Eye Institute in December 2014 and now leads eye care service delivery for the entire country.
With an estimated 28.1 percent of the population suffering from diabetes, Kiribati has a large number of people who need to be screened regularly for signs of diabetic retinopathy and consequently requiring urgent treatment. The Kiribati health system has limited resources to meet this need.
With a trained and highly capable national eye care workforce, the local health authorities are very enthusiastic about increasing eye care services for the country. However, the eye care team face a number of challenges as the eye clinic infrastructure is unsuitable to cater for increased levels of eye care service, due to its small size and poor condition.
We continue to work with the Kiribati eye care team and other stakeholders to address these challenges, and recognition by the national Ministry of Health has meant the eye team have been granted a larger clinic for eye care services.
In 2017, we upgraded the eye clinic so that the eye care team can work in a suitable space and we continued to support Dr Rabebe in her role as Head of Department for Ophthalmology through our workforce support programme.
We're also working towards increasing awareness within the health sector of diabetes and its effects on the eye. This involves training health nurses to recognise and refer diabetic patients to an eye clinic. This is also important in reaching patients in remote villages who have limited access to eye care services.