Training eye health workers | The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

Training eye health workers

 Dr Claude is a student at the Pacific Eye Institute. Photo: Michael Bradley

Dr Claude is a student at the Pacific Eye Institute. Photo: Michael Bradley

Like Fred, we provide doctors and nurses in developing countries with the skills and tools they need to restore sight in their own communities.

The Pacific Islands are spread over thousands of kilometres and there are simply not enough eye health workers to reach everyone in need. The situation is just as critical in Timor-Leste, where there are three eye doctors serving a population of more than one million people.

To address this need, we train local doctors and nurses to be eye health specialists and support them to deliver high quality services in their own communities. We also train community health workers to provide eye care support services such as vision screening and dispensing of spectacles.

Training eye health workers

We provide high quality training through the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji (a training initiative we established in 2006), Divine Word University in Papua New Guinea and the Institute of Health Sciences in Timor-Leste.

We currently offer the following courses: Certificate in Eye Care; Postgraduate Certificate in Eye Care; Postgraduate Diploma in Eye Care; Postgraduate Diploma in Ophthalmology; Postgraduate Certificate in Diabetes Eye Care; Masters of Medicine in Ophthalmology.

Supporting our workforce

Upon completion of their studies, our graduates often return home to very challenging conditions - sometimes they might be the only eye health worker in their country. We provide a range of workplace support including provision of surgical supplies, on the job training, skills assessment, mentoring and diagnostic assistance. We also ensure our graduates are linked into regional support networks such as PacEYES - the Pacific Eye Care Society.

The Pacific Eye Institute

In November 2010, we were delighted to officially open the first dedicated eye care training facility in the Pacific region. Located in Suva, it houses the on-going work of the Pacific Eye Institute (the training initiative we started back in 2006), and allows us to provide an educational environment for Pacific eye care professionals equal to any facility in New Zealand or Australia. The state of the art building boasts a fully-equipped eye clinic, two operating theatres and spacious classrooms.

The Institute provides internationally recognised postgraduate courses in eye care that  equip doctors and nurses from across the region with the skills they need to provide quality eye care in Pacific conditions. Students learn under the guidance of well-respected eye care professionals from the Pacific and around the world.

  • Since 2006, more than 75 eye health workers from 12 countries have been trained at the Pacific Eye Institute.Today, our graduates are providing eye care services in 11 Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste.
  • A further 50 eye health workers have been trained in Papua New Guinea, bringing the total trained in the Pacific Islands to 125 - around a quarter of the workforce required to meet the need for eye care in the region.
2 columns
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.