PM opens regional eye centre facility, hails local eye specialists

An eye-care specialist introduces the Acting New Zealand High Commissioner His Excellency Mike Ketchen and Prime Minister Sogavare to facilities at the Pacific Regional Eye Centre. Looking on is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Dr Tenneth Dalipanda. Photo credit: PMO

An eye-care specialist introduces the Acting New Zealand High Commissioner His Excellency Mike Ketchen and Prime Minister Sogavare to facilities at the Pacific Regional Eye Centre. Looking on is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Dr Tenneth Dalipanda. Photo credit: PMO

PRIME Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare today (yesterday) opened a newly completed Regional Eye Centre in Honiara.

Adjacent to the National Referral Hospital, the Prime Minister described the building as ‘magnificent’, saying the facilities in it are a testimony of joint efforts by the Solomon Islands Government, New Zealand Government and Fred Hollows Foundation NZ to prevent blindness and all sight impairments which are becoming an obstacle to people’s desire to participate in the development of Solomon Islands.

He said the building also stands as a testimony to years of successful collaboration amongst the three development partners who have a common focus on improving eye-care services in Solomon Islands and the Pacific region.

“As leader of the government, I feel it is an obligation worthy of my participation to acknowledge the great contribution this facility will make towards the successful implementation of the government’s development agenda and work programmes.

“There is a strong economic argument for eliminating blindness or near blindness. As people regain their eyesight, they regain their independence and dignity and regain their ability to work and contribute towards their family and community life.

“The effects are hugely positive in both personal and economic senses,” Prime Minister Sogavare told the people who gathered to witness opening the opening ceremony of the Regional Eye Centre.

The Prime Minister said the new facility’s capacity to carry out twice the number of surgeries in its first year of operation is a significant improvement.

“This Regional Eye Centre goes one step better than before. The opening of this facility today means more people can use the services on offer for the treatment of preventable blindness so that you do not have to wait until you start experiencing problems with your eye sight before you can be treated. This is great news.”

The Prime Minister also used the opportunity to hail the team of Solomon Islands eye specialists who will be serving in the new facility.

“I was pleased to be advised that the eye doctors and nurses who will serve in this facility are amongst the leaders in the Pacific Health system.  We – Solomon Islanders – should be proud of these outstanding eye-care professionals who are also amongst us as we celebrate the official opening of this facility.

“To date 21 Solomon Islands eye doctors and nurses have graduated from the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji established by the Fred Hollows Foundation in 2006.

“These graduates have come back with a wealth of specialty knowledge in professional eye-care support. Many of these graduates continue to show great commitment to building eye-care systems and a wealth of specialty knowledge to support community preventative health services in the country.

“At this juncture, I am so delighted to acknowledge the presence of Dr Claude Posala who is one of the eye specialists in the country. Graduates from the Pacific Eye Institute like Dr Posala are leading the way in Pacific eye-care and I am so pleased that the quality of support available at this facility will see the sharing of skills at the highest professional level for the good of Solomon Islanders and people across the Pacific.”

The Prime also hailed the New Zealand Government and Fred Hollows Foundation NZ for working with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for over a decade to improve eye-care services in Solomon Islands.

“The Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services has successfully worked in partnership with the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ for over 10 years now.

“During that time, the F oundation through the New Zealand Government has invested over $10-Million towards scholarships to fund training in eye-care and surgery treatment as well as outreach programmes targeting patients who suffer from all sorts of eyesight problems. I take this opportunity to thank the government of New Zealand for the kind assistance.”

Source: PMO, press release

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