Dr Maria Victoria Rondaris on behalf of the Fred Hollows Foundation, Australia
To ensure that the indigenous people of Benguet, Philippines, have access to primary eyecare by delivering eye health services, developing an ophthalmic referral system, and providing ocular health education in the community.
Indigenous people are among the most vulnerable and marginalized in the Philippines, with poorer health and social outcomes and higher rates of poverty compared to non-indigenous people.
A large proportion of Filipinos who are visually impaired live in poverty and reside in rural areas, yet the vast majority of eyecare services are only available in private practices in larger cities. Thus, poorer populations in rural regions, such as indigenous people, have limited eyecare access.
This initiative aims to implement eyecare services in Kibungan, a relatively poor and remote region in the Benguet province in the Philippines. This will involve conducting primary eye consultations, delivering health education and eye screenings, providing spectacles and medicines, and referring patients with suspected eye conditions to established systems, as well as developing new referral systems, The project will furthermore carry out primary eyecare trainings, as well as advocacy and policy workshops to institutionalize eyecare training programs.
It is hoped that learnings and experiences from this project can be used to advocate for a similar people-centered eyecare model in Kibungan’s neighboring provinces.