SCCO Fringe Talk 4: Opthalmologists explain sight-saving work in Fiji

The fourth of the SCC Online Fringe Talk series launches today, with a presentation from The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ’s Dr Biu, consultant ophthalmologist leading the diabetic retinopathy program in Suva; and Dr Mundi, chief consultant ophthalmologist.

The ophthalmologists have a wealth of information and have worked for years delivering high-quality eye care to patients and supporting the training of new specialists across the Pacific region. Dr Mundi is a past member of the executive of the PacEYES and co-chaired the IAPB Western Pacific region from 2013 – 2015. He created the first eye research role at Regional Eye Centre, Honiara, resulting in the development of Solomon Island’s Trachoma initiative – the first-ever in the Pacific – including the inaugural Trachoma Action Plan for the Solomon Islands.

Dr Biu leads the NZ foundation’s work on diabetes in the Pacific, contributing research on the topic, maintaining a regular schedule of outreach visits, and training doctors and nurses in the best methods to treat diabetes-related eye disease since 2009.

Both are both based at the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji, a training institution for Pacific students which also offers a full range of eye care services.

In their presentation, they explain what The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ does in Fiji, both at the Pacific Eye Institute and also through the Mobile Eye Clinic which Specsavers funds. They also discuss a diabetic case study that highlights the level of care required in Fiji.

Dr Biu says the main reasons for vision impairment and blindness in the Pacific are cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and refractive error.

“Before Fred Hollows came into the picture in Fiji, there was a big problem. There was a lack of information about diabetes and eye health in Fiji, so we responded by undertaking the Fiji Eye Health Survey in 2009 which found that more than 40% of those aged 40 and above had diabetes – around 55,200 people. We partnered with the World Diabetes Foundation, which led to the establishment of the Fiji National Diabetes Care Project.”

As a part of discussing her case study, Dr Biu explains that the main challenges associated with diabetic eye disease in Fiji are due to a long denial period or delayed diagnosis of diabetes, non-compliance to treatment, poor metabolic control, delayed screening and the high cost of treatment.

“We work with patients to try to solve these issues as a part of the care we offer them in Fiji,” says Dr Biu.

To watch the Fringe Talk, visit the MyCPD Portal or register for an SCC Online log-in.

The next Fringe Talk will be released on 1 October 2020.

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