Eye surgery theatre opens

The people of Madang Province and Papua New Guinea now have a state-of-the-art operating theatre for eye surgery, thanks to Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand.

The theatre is located at the Modilon General Hospital in Madang town.

The deputy chairman of Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, Craig Fisher opened the theatre in front of representatives of its partner organisations, Divine Word University (DWU) and the hospital among other contributors on Thursday 6th November, 2014.

DWU was represented by the President Fr Jan Czuba, who is also the chairman of the hospital board, Vice President Academic Professor Pamela Norman and Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr Pascal Michon.

The theatre funded by Fred Hollows Foundation NZ is a culmination of the partnership that the Foundation has had with DWU and the hospital since 2007.

Mr Fisher said the Foundation was delighted to open such a world class facility for the benefit of the people of Madang and PNG as a result of the partnership it has with DWU and Modilon Hospital and with the financial contributions from NZAid and AusAID among other contributors.

He said since Fred Hollows came to Madang in 2007 to partner with DWU and Modilon Hospital, the Post-Graduate Certificate in Eye Care program they offer at the University has graduated 54 nurses with eye care skills who were working in 80 hospitals and health centres in PNG.

“This is something we are proud of,” said Mr Fisher.

“Success comes through partnership,” he said.

Mr Fisher said the theatre is a “sustainable contribution” towards eye care which adds to the existing clinic and the training program at DWU.

The theatre will also be used to train nurses and doctors to specialize in eye care.

Fr Czuba praised Fred Hollows Foundation for its immense contribution towards eye care around the world and in PNG as envisioned by its founder the late Professor Fred Hollows.

He said the partnership the hospital, Fred Hollows and DWU have is in response to the World Health Organisation (WHO) call for universal action against blindness and eye problems.

Fr Czuba said in the world today there were 39 million blind people and a further 249 million visually impaired people and every effort to address this global problem is necessary.

He said the hospital and DWU were glad to partner with Fred Hollows to help the thousands who suffer from eye problems.

Fred Hollows New Zealand executive director, Andrew Bell said the theatre will help to realize the four stated aims of the foundation. The aims are to restore the gift of sight, train doctors and nurses, provide support with appropriate infrastructure and carry out research.

Mr Bell said the theatre was “a gift from the people of New Zealand to the people of Papua New Guinea.”

He said the hope of the Foundation and DWU is for more doctors and nurses to take study in eye care given the opportunity provided in-country at DWU and graduate with specialist skills in eye care. He said so far, nurses were the ones that have taken up the study at DWU and they were hoping doctors would enroll in due course.

The theatre is kitted with the latest international standard surgical equipment and is said to be the first of its kind in the country.

Greg Charteris from Auckland-based Timber Construction Solutions who supplied the material and built the theatre said the facility has a pressurized air-conditioning system that is set according to specifications to keep germs out.

The theatre adds to the clinic that the Foundation already operates at the hospital and the study program at DWU.