Building eye health expertise in the Pacific

29 Feb, 2024

The Queensland Eye Institute (QEI) partners with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) to convene a Global Eye Health Network, supporting professional development for eye health workers in smaller, low-resourced Pacific nations. The Network supports health professionals from smaller nations through professional development, mentoring and training, which increases local capacity for diagnosis, treatment, and care.

Among other engagement opportunities, the Network convenes in person at the RANZCO annual conference, where expert speakers from across the Asia-Pacific region address delegates, and a dedicated workshop is run for Network members.

The workshop fosters learning and ideas exchanges between Australian and New Zealand ophthalmologists and their colleagues from smaller neighbouring nations. Moreover, it allows participants to develop leadership skills, for instance, by chairing sessions and participating as panellists and speakers in scientific sessions.

A large group of men and women, most of whom appear to be of Asian or South Pacific heritage, stand in front of banners with branding for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology and Australia and New Zealand Eye Foundation
QEI Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Prof Mark Radford (4th from left, back row) and QEI researcher Dr Alexandra Manta (3rd from right, back row) with members of the Global Eye Health Network at the RANZCO Congress in Perth, November 2023

Scholarship funding

The Global Eye Health Network receives periodic grants from the Australian and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF), the philanthropic arm of RANZCO. This ANZEF funding allows ophthalmologists from pacific nations to attend the RANZCO Conference and Global Eye Health Workshops. More importantly, these scholarships support congress-related networking opportunities for eye health professionals, who often work in isolation.

Queensland Eye Institute used ANZEF grant money to bring five overseas ophthalmologists to Australia for the Global Eye Health Workshop in 2023. Additional ANZEF funding will aid more ophthalmologists to attend the next events in 2024.

“I would like to thank ANZEF for your support to attend RANZCO this year. It was a brilliant idea to bring ophthalmologists from different parts of the world together for the Global Eye Health Workshop – especially the Pacific ophthalmologists presenting the challenges we are facing. Coming from Vanuatu, where there are only 2 ophthalmologists to look after 200,000 people and the islands are so scattered, is quite challenging. Most of the topics discussed were relevant to the situation I face in the eye clinic in Port Vila. I have learnt a great deal from my attendance and hope there will be more support for Pacific Island ophthalmologists to attend in the future.”
— Dr Andronico Ly, Ophthalmologist, Vanuatu [published in ANZEF 2023 Impact Report]