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Published: 10.06.2024
Ben Zuvani National Eye Care Coordinator
PNG National Prevention of Blindness Committee

The visit of the Global President for the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), Ms. Caroline Casey, to Papua New Guinea was a brief but a significant event. The visit showed that IAPB, the global peak body for eye health, acknowledges the importance of the work that the eye health stakeholders in PNG are doing. Ms Casey was accompanied by Dr James Muecke, ophthalmologist, founder of Sight For All and Australian of the Year in 2020; Dr Mario Bustos-Rubilar, consultant to WHO Western Pacific and by Drew Keys, IAPB Head of Region, Western Pacific.

In her remarks to PNG’s The National Newspaper, Ms Casey acknowledged that there are many challenges but that PNG has done well in the past 10 years to improve the training of eye health care professionals and the implementation of rehabilitation and inclusive education services. She also acknowledged the funding of the PNG Centre for Eye Health by the New Zealand Government – an announcement that was made during a visit to PNG by the New Zealand Health Minister, the same week.

Ms. Casey’s meeting with the Prevention of Blindness Committee (PBL) member organisations, UPNG School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the World Health Organisation and the Secretary of the National Department of Health, underscored how much interest IAPB has for eye health in PNG – and underlined PNG’s leadership in the Pacific Islands sub-region.

Ms Casey’s visit, evaluation and statement on eye health care in PNG goes to show that IAPB is recognising the work PNG has done and the success we continue to strive for . This is very much appreciated in PNG, especially by the eye health stakeholders including the National Prevention of Blindness Committee members. We share a history of achievements and working together. In her own words, Ms Casey said; “Things are complex, but they are being overcome and we need to start talking about what works and to share that with other parts of the world.” Her statement summarises the hard work and issues that confront the PBL committee and PNG stakeholders and the efforts the have been addressed over the years.

We are very grateful for her visit and to IAPB for keeping the global spotlight on PNG.