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January 17, 2021

Eye Care: PNG Far Below WHO’s Requirements

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Papua New Guinea is far below the World Health Organization’s requirements in terms of specialized eye doctors.

This was revealed by the country’s chief ophthalmologist, Dr. Simon Melengas, today.


Dr. Melengas said there are 10 practicing eye doctors and 6 currently being trained at UPNG’s medical school.


Apart from manpower issues, public hospitals do not have standardized equipment to treat complicated cases.


Apart from lecturing at UPNG’s medical school as a senior lecturer in ophthalmology, the country’s chief ophthalmologist is also a consultant at Port Moresby General Hospital’s eye clinic.


Although small in terms of size, the clinic receives 400 patients weekly.


Dr. Melengas says with just 9 medical staff working, it is the busiest section in the hospital, apart from accidents and emergency.


Port Moresby General’s eye clinic is one out of 5 in the country, with just 10 specialised doctors spread out in these centres.


Rural-urban drifting and western diets are the main cause of ever-increasing eye disease cases at the clinic.


Dr. Melengas pointed out the common cases such as diabetes, with complications to the eye, preventable blindness and injuries.


Like others providing eye care in the country, the chief ophthalmologist is pushing for the government and the only medical training institute to encourage more medical specialists and better medical equipment for the clinic.


He said with a shortfall in specialised doctors and standardised equipment, patients with complicated cases are referred overseas for treatment.


The clinic provides secondary and tertiary services which are also referred to as curative services.


In order to cater for the shortfalls, there are also non for profit organisations who have been partnering public clinics to provide eye care.


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