The lack of trained human resources in eye care across the Pacific subregion and the lack of an adequate Pacific-based ophthalmology training center were known to be the biggest obstacles to successful eye care programs in the Pacific. Discussion between Pacific ophthalmologists and NGOs in 2002–2003 led to the first ever Pacific Regional Eye Health Workshop and Meeting in 2003.
The meeting resolutions included the following:
1. To establish a professional body of eye care workers in the Pacific: Pacific Eye Care Society (PacEYES);
2. To establish a Pacific-based training institute for the Pacific appropriate for Pacific eye care: Pacific Eye Institute.
Appropriate positions, roles and activities were further developed with assistance from NGOs. In its first 10 years, PacEYES struggled to keep afloat due to the challenges of having members across the Pacific who were all very busy with clinical work. The Pacific Eye Institute, on the other hand, was more of a success.
Now a fully registered body in Fiji, PacEYES aims to further develop into a “Pacific College of Eye Care Workers” that adheres to the laws of Fiji and is accepted and recognized in the Pacific and international ophthalmic world. It will operate as a nongovernment organization with suitable structures, culture and resources in place to allow it to advocate and work toward the elimination of avoidable blindness in the Pacific.
In fulfilling this, PacEYES acknowledges and recognizes the importance of support and good working partnerships with international and local NGOs, academic institutions and Pacific Island governments.
Dr. Elenoa Matoto-Raikabakaba
Pacific Eye Care Society
Eye Department, Colonial War Memorial Hospital, Suva, Fiji