Low government spending, a lack of doctors and nurses, and rundown clinics and equipment are all huge challenges for eye care in the Pacific. For people living in remote areas, accessing the health care they need can be close to impossible. We established the Pacific Eye Institute in 2006 to help address these issues, with a focus on training local doctors and nurses.
For the first four years the Institute was located at Tamavua Hospital in Suva. In 2010, we built a new custom-made eye care and teaching facility on the grounds of the CWM Hospital. The Institute and the Hospital joined forces, and the Pacific Eye Institute is now an impressive eye care hub for the entire region.
In 2011, the Diabetes Eye Clinic opened on-site to provide diabetes eye care services and deliver a teaching programme for nurses in diabetes eye care. This followed our research in 2009 which revealed that more than 40 per cent of adults aged 40 years and over in Fiji have diabetes, meaning demand for diabetes eye care services is huge.
Before the Pacific Eye Institute was established, Pacific doctors had to go to Papua New Guinea for training. Now they can train in their own region.
The Institute offers postgraduate courses focused on the particular eye care needs of the Pacific and provides professional development and support to graduates and eye care workers. It also advocates for investment in eye care and undertakes research. Courses are administered by Fiji National University’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.
The Pacific Eye Institute is a significant provider of eye care services in Fiji and in outreach locations across the Pacific, performing around 2,000 eye surgeries a year. This means there are good opportunities for eye nurses and doctors in-training to get practical experience.
In 2020, in partnership with CWM's Hospital’s eye department, the Pacific Eye Institute:
The Institute is also the base for the Pacific outreach team, the Mobile Eye Clinic, and local diabetes eye care outreaches which in 2020 delivered a further:
In partnership with Fiji National University, the Pacific Eye Institute has trained 187 eye doctors, nurses, and technicians across 15 countries. In 2021 there are 18 students enrolled.