Lynette Grubwinkler on behalf of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Medical Ships, Australia
Providing surgical care and restoring sight to individuals in remote areas of Papua New Guinea, and training and empowering local ophthalmologists to continue to provide much-needed ophthalmic services
Cataract accounts for over a third of visual impairments occurring in the 146,000 people over 50 years of age in Papua New Guinea. Eye surgery is available in only four urban centers in this country; therefore those living in rural and remote areas have almost no access to eye care. Individuals who are blind and living in remote villages are unable to provide for their children, and are forced to rely on assistance from their family and local community to do the simplest of tasks. They are unable to care for themselves in a culture where, each day, every individual prepares their own food, collects firewood to cook, and farms, fishes and hunts to eat. The first step in this project is to provide equipment and resources for outreach trips in 2014 and 2015, which will bring much-needed ophthalmic care to some of the most remote regions of Papua New Guinea.
The second step is the training and empowerment of ophthalmologists from Papua New Guinea, so that they are able to provide ongoing care within their communities. The project will continue work with provincial health authorities in the Gulf and Western Provinces of the country, to enable local allied health workers to join the ophthalmic teams to receive training whilst also providing much-needed eye-care services.
During outreach trips, the project will help to train local ophthalmologists in the most innovative methods of manual cataract extraction. Additionally, a surgical training manual will be developed, which will serve as both a resource tool for trainees as they learn, and as an important reference once back in their regular surgical setting.
Overall, it is hoped that this project will reduce the burden that cataract places on the remote communities in this region, and increase the availability of sustainable and high-quality ophthalmic care throughout rural Papua New Guinea