Sumba Eye Program

In 2007, The Sumba Eye Program (SEP) was established by a group of dedicated ophthalmologists and optometrists, who were at the same time part of the East Timor Eye Program (ETEP) based in Maliana, East Timor with the conviction to deliver top class eye care.  Using the knowledge, skills and experience, the group began to go to Sumba in cooperation with the Sumba Foundation, a NGO based in West Sumba (Sumba Barat) and administration provided by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).  Funding was by the Rotary Clubs of Glenferrie and Kew, the former Optometry Giving Sight and many generous private donations.


In 2021, for logistics reasons the Sumba Eye Program has joined the FORESIGHT team to continue it’s commitment to the under resourced people of Sumba.  Sumba is one of the main three islands in Nusa Tengarra Timur (East Indonesia) positioned just north of Western Australia.   Our nearest neighbours!


Key achievements.

  • Eye care delivery since 2008 –
    • 1,200 operations including approximately 1000 cataract operations.
    • 18,000 Eye examinations and dispensing of 13,000 low cost spectacles
  • Sponsoring and training of 4 Eye Care Nurses (ECN). The ECNs are actively conducting eye clinics once a month in 4 locations in West Sumba.
  • Supplying of microscopes, a-scanners, lasers, and other surgical equipment.
  • Supplying slit lamps, trial lenses and the examining equipment required to conduct eye clinics.
  • Ongoing supplying of eye medications and spectacles.
  • Since 2015, working in cooperation with the Ophthalmogy Department of Hasanuddin University (UNHAS) with combined eye camps to teach, train and both ways transference of skills.
  • Good relationships with Indonesian Consulate based in Melbourne and acknowledgement by the Indonesian People of the SEP’s work
  • The aim to achieve 4 major points
    • Service delivery to those with no resources.
    • Train local nurses in eye health.
    • Engage Indonesian Ophthalmologists to be involved in this overlooked island.
    • Teaching, training and exchange of ideas with Indonesian health authorities.

Interestingly, there are no such profession as optometrists over in Indonesia, and so the ECNs are being trained in the refraction and provision of spectacles and going the ability to detect eye health issues.

  • Set up of Optical shop for one of our original interpreters Frengki Djami, who learnt refraction and dispensing with the SEP – Anakalang Optical.

What’s next

  • Ongoing training and upgrading skills of the ECNs
  • Continuing the trips to Sumba with village screening and surgical camps.
  • In conjunction with the Sumba Foundation and the Makassar Doctors to set up more permanent eye clinics.
  • To enhance the already good relationship with the ophthalmology department, UNHAS, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

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