A week-long National Eye Conference 2022 with the theme Love Your Eyes was successfully held last week (13-17th Sept) in Honiara.
At the conference the Eye-care division’s 5 years’ national corporate plan was reviewed and updated and a draft of the division’s 2023 Annual Operation Plan (AOP) developed for finalization soon ahead of next year.
The conference also enabled health workers, nurses and doctors including eye specialists, in the provincial and national eye departments to share their experiences, best practices and achievements but also challenges and issues that requires attention to better the delivery of eye care services and its related public health programs.
Dr. Nemia Bainivalu, Deputy Secretary Health Improvement, Ministry of Health at the gathering, acknowledged the eye department for their outstanding performance and important partnerships developed within and beyond the country.
“It has been noted that in the recent past the National Eye program has been one of the outstanding MHMS programs in not only leading in terms of clinical and primary health care coordination, but also in terms of the partnerships established at national level and most importantly at regional level such as with Fred Hollows New Zealand, PEI and WHO and many others”,
“These partnerships have elevated the National Eye program with support and capacity development initiatives and strategies for the Solomon Islands in terms of achieving not only national benchmarks in the indicators and targets but also in terms of programmatic, administrative and financial management over the past 5 years”, said Dr Bainivalu.
Dr Bainivalu however reminded participants of the task at hand including Non Communicable Disease (NCD) crises, especially diabetes a cause for Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) (complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye) that is increasingly becoming a serious and major threat to blindness in Solomon Islands including the region and globe”,
Other leading causes highlighted by Dr Bainivalu, includes cataract, a cloudy area in the eye lens and refractive error or blurry vision due to shape of eyes that keeps light from focusing correctly on the retina, the light sensitive part of the eye to enable visual focus.
“Therefore the theme of this year’s national eye health conference is “Love Your Eyes”, which is a call for a united effort from all individuals and organizations to recognize the need for eye health is very much inline with the pathway moving forward, that is growing in partnership and further enhancing clinical services such as outreach, outpatient services and promotion of primary eye care”, explained Dr Bainivalu.
He further highlighted that the national eye-care corporate plan will be driven by the key objectives of the new National Health Strategic Plan (NHSP) 2022 – 2031 (to be launched soon) in three strategic areas;
“As such it is important that we ask ourselves where we are today, what we would like to see over the next decade and how do we get ourselves there. With this, improving health systems to meeting the needs of those in need and providing quality eye care services is a critical step forward however equally important is continued discussions emphasising on the overall health system lens in the approach, focusing on human resources, infrastructure and service delivery and to build on the successes of the past 5 to 10 years.
At the closing of the conference, Dr Bainivalu thanked all participants and acknowledge partnership between Ministry of Health and Medical Services through the National Eye Program, the Fred Hollows foundation New Zealand & Australia (for trachoma), the Pacific Eye Institute (for HR development), Regional Eye Centre in National Referral Hospital, WHO and other partners toward Eye care in Solomon Islands. Provincial health services including the eye care staff throughout the country were also acknowledged for their wonderful work in making Eye care as one of the most outstanding health programs in the country.