By Edwin Fidelis – EM TV, Lae
Eye health problems are a serious concern for Papua New Guinea, with more people becoming permanently blind from curable eye diseases; a contributing factor is the lack of eye health specialists and medical expertise in this field of medicine.
This is according to the Fred Hollows Foundation.
Currently PNG has only 9 ophthalmologists, attending to seven million Papua New Guineans with vision impairments.
Joyce Oeka, the sister in-charge of the Eye care ward, operated by the Fred Hollows Foundation at the Modilon General hospital in Madang sees about 17 patients everyday, who go there to seek eye treatment. They come from all over the country.
“There are many people out there with eye problems, the message is not going out to the villages, most of this eye diseases are curable”, said Mrs Oeka.
Vision problems have become an insidious threat to the lives of many Papua New Guineans in recent years.
Those who come to seek treatments here are those that have access to proper means of transportation.
Those who are tucked away in the rural interiors have lesser chances of getting this treatment.
According to the Fred Hollows Foundation at least, the current ratio of eye doctors to people, is 9 is to 7.2 million.
This means, one ophthalmologist will cater to the needs of at least eight hundred thousand Papua New Guineans that have visionary problems.
“The whole country, 7.2 million people, we have only 9 ophthalmologist; the requirement in terms of standard…we will need a minimal of 65 more doctors”, said Fr. Yan Czuba, President of the Divine Word University
Organisations such as the Fred Hollows foundation are working closely with the Divine Word University in Madang, producing eye care professionals.
Last Friday, the Fred Hollows Foundation, commissioned a new eye operating theatre in Madang- the only one in the country.
Going overseas to seek eye treatment is impossible for many ordinary Papua New Guineans.
For an average Papua New Guinean worker, an operation like this would cost his or her lifetime savings.