Cricket PNG and Pacific International Hospital joining forces to battle avoidable blindness in PNG

Cricket PNG (CPNG), Pacific International Hospital (PIH) and Laila Foundation launched their new partnership to battle avoidable blindness in Papua New Guinea (PNG) today at the PIH Hospital in 3 mile, Port Moresby.

Col Sandeep S Shaligram (PIH CEO), Dr Amyna Sultan, OBE (PIH Consultant Ophthalmologist & Director), Helen Macindoe (CPNG Chairperson), Dr Suresh Venkita (PIH Medical Director), Hebou PNG Barramundis and the City Pharmacy PNG Lewas were on hand to launch the new partnership which aims to tackle the problem of Avoidable Blindness in PNG.

“We are very grateful to have the players here with us today to understand (1) the magnitude of this problem of visual impairment and blindness in this country; and (2) that there is a cure to avoidable blindness in this country. We are also very thankful that these players will act as ambassadors in the community, villages and provinces to spread this message that there is a cure for avoidable blindness,” said Dr Amyna Sultan, OBE.

This partnership will see PIH, through the Laila Foundation, utilise the national cricketers, both men and female to drive the message of curing Avoidable Blindness throughout the country. All the Hebou PNG Barramundis players and the City Pharmacy PNG Lewas players will have their eyes tested over the next week. Then PIH will use some of these players as ambassadors for this program to spread to word to the public to get their eyes tested.  .

“Cricket PNG would like to Pacific International Hospital for asking us to join this program. We at Cricket PNG have a duty of care to our staff and players. Getting this message across to our cricketers is very important and you well know they need to focus and react to a ball coming at them very quickly. I am sure that we will be able to get this message across to the general public about getting your eyes checked,” said Helen Macindoe.

The release of the blindness prevalence data from the recent RAPID ASSESSMENT OF BLINDNESS SURVEY (RAAB 2017) in PNG, has revealed that there are:

  • 6% adults over age 50 are blind, highest in our region.
  • Over 40,000 blind people in PNG
  • Refractive error and Cataract are leading cause of blindness
  • 61% of those blind are women, F:M 2:1 in remote areas
  • Diabetic eye disease is becoming common and can lead to blindness.
  • Almost 8% adults over 50 are diabetic in PNG
  • Almost 50% of then have some sort of diabetic retinopathy when diagnosed
  • Yet 80% of diabetics have never had an eye check!

“The above data have convinced the Laila Foundation Board to reintroduce the high volume cataract surgery outreach program in PNG, to assist the remote communities in combating avoidable blindness. By making cataract surgery accessible to these remote communities and providing low cost spectacles for refractive errors we hope to play our role in achieving the vision 2020 goals set by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” said Dr Amyna Sultan, OBE.

The first Laila Foundation program is currently being launched at PIH, offering free eye consultation with two of our specialist Ophthalmologists and optometrist for refractive error, cataract and diabetic retinopathy screening. First hundred, non-affording patients will be offered free cataract surgery at PIH. They will be funding these surgeries along with covering the costs of promoting these messages through outreach programs.