Q and A with A/Prof. Geoffrey Painter AM
The Solomon Islands have been a key focus for Foresight’s work for more than 20 years. We have worked with the Solomon Islands Government and Ophthalmology Department to build a sustainable eye program with an emphasis on education, training, and infrastructure development to help the Solomon Islands people treat and prevent avoidable blindness.
What are some of the objectives that Foresight has been able to achieve?
Initially we were able to support individual patient treatments in addition to the ongoing Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Pacific Islands Project visits. When the ethnic conflict began in the late 1990s, there was a shortage of doctors remaining on the islands. During this time Foresight was able to fund the training in PNG of two more eye doctors to achieve their Diploma of Ophthalmology. Later, through AusAid funding, as part of the Avoidable Blindness Initiative which started in 2009, Foresight was able to secure a significant funding package that enable them to roll out a comprehensive screening, training and equipment program as well as construct and equip five standalone eye clinics across the country.
What are we doing currently?
We are pleased to report that the clinics have been running well and Foresight continues to maintain links with the Solomon Islands government and local doctors. We have continued to support the Solomon Islands through treatment of special cases and equipment.
Foresight hopes to continue it’s support for the Solomon Islands by the provision of sub-specialty training, both in country and in Australia, for their Ophthalmologists. It is also planned, in the future, for Foresight to send surgical teams to the more remote islands to help the Department of Ophthalmology provide eye-care to these communities. We also hope to expand the successful model that we have helped establish and build more eye clinics in remote areas in the future.