Developing local leaders | The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

Developing local leaders

Dr Mundi Qalo from the Solomon Islands. Photo: Sandy Scheltema

Dr Mundi Qalo from the Solomon Islands. Photo: Sandy Scheltema

Our ultimate goal is to put ourselves out of a job. To achieve this we must develop and support local leaders who are passionate about eye health in their own communities. We identify potential leaders, provide them with mentoring, and support them towards further education.

A number of Foundation-trained eye doctors and nurses have recently taken up leadership positions in their home countries. Like so many of our graduates, they are following in Fred's footsteps and creating a world where everyone can access the eye care they need.

Dr Mundi Qoqonokana from the Solomon Islands

Dr Mundi with a patient in Vanuatu. Photo: Ben BohaneDr Mundi Qoqonokana graduated from the Pacific Eye Institute at the end of 2009 with his Masters of Medicine in Ophthalmology. He studied under Dr John Szetu – a world class ophthalmologist, Director of the Institute and fellow Solomon Islander.

Dr Qoqonokana is now the Chief Ophthalmologist in the Solomon Islands and is responsible for running the entire national eye care program. Over the next three years Dr Qoqonokana will be joined by two more graduates from the Pacific Eye Institute. Dr Claude Posala and Dr Nola Pikacha, both Solomon Islanders, are on track to complete their Masters degrees at the end of 2012 and 2013 respectively.

“As the only ophthalmologist for over 600,000 people, my hope is to train others, so that the people of the Solomon Islands get the sight-restoring services they deserve.”

Nurse Tasi Leo from Samoa

Tasi Leo, an eye nurse from Samoa. Photo: James Ensing-TrussellNurse Tasi Leo was working as a general nurse in Apia, Samoa, when he realised many of the eye patients were travelling from his island of Savai’i for treatment. This motivated him to train as an eye nurse at The Pacific Eye Institute and start the first eye care service on his island.

Tasi graduated at the end of 2009 and returned to Savai’i to work at the local hospital. At first he was instructed to give just ten per cent of his time to eye patients, but it quickly became clear this wasn’t enough to meet the need.

Tasi advocated for a dedicated eye clinic and he is now working there full time. Shortly after the clinic was opened he organised a surgical outreach visit from the Pacific Eye Institute to reduce the huge backlog of cataract patients, some of whom had been blind for up to 20 years.

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What we can do

Help keep Fred’s dream alive.

4 out of 5 people who are blind in the developing world don't need to be. Routine treatment costing as little as $25 can restore sight and hope.