Seventy-six people from an impoverished province of Papua New Guinea have received eye surgery at a Foundation-supported outreach eye clinic on the island of Daru.
The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ has held its first outreach in Daru, PNG
76 surgeries performed, including 59 cataract operations
Evidence of childhood trachoma on the mainland
Daru lies within Australia’s Torres Strait territories right above Queensland, but its people lack access to the high quality eye health care available just a short boat ride away. Instead, the island’s 25,000 residents must wait on annual visits by city-based ophthalmic teams to receive basic eye operations and treatments.
This was the first surgical outreach conducted by the The Foundation in the Western Province, where Daru is located. A team of two ophthalmologists and six eye nurses from Madang on the north coast set up a makeshift eye clinic at Daru General Hospital to screen and treat patients from across the province – many travelling by canoe from the mainland to get help. The surgeries included 59 cataract operations. One doctor and four of the nurses were trained with The Foundation's support.
During the outreach, many children were screened and 35 trachoma cases were diagnosed. While no formal trachoma study has occurred, this figure suggests high rates in mainland villages.
Daru is located on the Fly River, where hundreds of people live in shanty towns by the water’s edge. Despite being the most mineral rich province in the country, clean water is in short supply, human resources are limited, and medical buildings and equipment are in desperate need of upgrading. Tuberculosis is endemic.
Daru’s remote location meant radio was critical to the success of the outreach clinic. During the week, a local broadcaster reminded residents of Daru and the mainland that they could receive sight-saving treatment.