Project Report

State of the eye health system in the Pacific: is medical technology available and used by mid-level eye care workers?


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Benoit Tousignant1
OD, MSc, MPH, Assistant Professor *

Matthew G. Pearce2 OD, MPH, DrPH, Optometrist

Julie Brûlé3 OD, MSc, Associate Professor

Biu Sikivou4 MD, Director

Graeme Nicholls5 DOpt, BTh, GCOT, PGDPH, Workforce and Academic Manager


1, 3 École d’optométrie, Université de Montréal, 3744 Jean-Brillant, #190-12, Montréal, Quebec H3T 1P1, Canada

2 Northwest Permanente, 22848 Weatherhill Rd, West Linn, OR 97068, USA

4 Pacific Eye Institute, Brown St, GPO Box 18641, Suva, Fiji

5 Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand, Level 5, The AIG Building, 41 Shortland St, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

ACCEPTED: 22 February 2020

0:02 / 5:35 Benoit Tousignant: State of the eye health system in the Pacific

early abstract:

Purpose: The aim of this study is to describe the availability, use and comfort with ophthalmic equipment and medications by mid-level eye care workers in Papua New Guinea and Pacific Island Countries and Territories, as indicators of the state of eye care in the Pacific.

Methods: Health information system data, from a workforce support programme to Pacific mid-level eye care workers, were analysed for availability and comfort using ophthalmic equipment and topical medications.

Results: For refraction equipment, access is excellent (98% for retinoscopes and trial lenses) “very frequent use” ranges from 42 – 74% and “high comfort of use” ranges from 54 – 86%. Equipment for ocular health assessment is widely available (slit lamps 67%), with high comfort levels (78 – 100% “very comfortable”). Over 70% of respondents have access to topical diagnostic medications, 98% have access to at least one type of antibiotic drops and 63% have access to at least one topical corticosteroid.

Conclusion: Overall, trained mid-level eye care workers in the Pacific seem well equipped for ocular health and refractive assessments. Comfort levels are encouraging, but also highlight areas for continuing professional development. Access to ophthalmic medications appears acceptable in the region for low morbidity anterior segment conditions.