National Eye Health Coordinators (NEHC) are very important to the development of eye health systems in the South Pacific. They lead advocacy events such as World Sight Day; they coordinate visiting outreach teams and they assist us all in gathering data about cataract surgeries, spectacles dispensed and so on. So it was heartening to see this group celebrated and listened to at a January workshop co-hosted by IAPB and FHFNZ in Auckland.
There was a recognition amongst stakeholders in the Pacific Islands of the importance of the NEHC role, plus an awareness of the requirement to provide further support and tools to strengthen these roles. The workshop examined the strengths, successes and challenges faced on a daily basis. It provided opportunities for discussion and to find ways to overcome barriers and breach the gaps. At the end of the two days it was decided that:
- A Coordinator Network would be developed to
- Share Success and Challenges
- Agree to Key Activities for NEHC to undertake in 2018
- Identify support tools and mentoring required by NEHC
Samuel Koim, General Manager of PNG Eye Care, agreed to undertake this role in the interim until a full-time coordinator could be found to be based at PacEyes in Suva, Fiji