Over 70 people in remote areas of Oro Province have regained their sight over the last two weeks, thanks to a YWAM Medical Ships’ ophthalmology (eye surgery) patrol, with specific assistance from New Britain Palm Oil Limited, Pacific International Hospital and the Laila Foundation. A further 676 received optometry assessment for sight-enhancing spectacles.
Both cataract and pterygium surgeries were performed aboard the MV YWAM PNG’s day procedure unit during her patrol to 18 coastal and inland villages throughout Ijivitari and Sohe Districts.
YWAM Medical Ships Partner Relations Manager, Dr Sarah Dunn, said that the successful outreach was a team effort.
“YWAM Medical Ships, New Britain Palm Oil, Pacific International Hospital and the Laila Foundation all had a part to play in the success of the eye surgery element of the patrol in particular.
“New Britain Palm Oil helped identify surgical candidates, Pacific International Hospital and the Laila Foundation deployed a surgeon, and, along with our other wonderful partners, YWAM Medical Ships provided the facilities and logistical support.
“These strengths and networks combined helped achieve a wonderful outcome for the 73 surgery patients that now have improved or restored vision plus the hundreds that received spectacles,” said Dr Dunn.
Among the 73 surgical patients, include a paediatric nurse from Tufi Health Centre, Mr Stanley Lekons. Mr Lekons had been greatly limited in his work over the last few years due to severe cataracts. Important tasks like reading the print on vials and samples was impossible.
Following a successful cataract surgery, Mr Lekons’ vision improved from 6/60 (top of the eye chart) to 6/9 (near the bottom of the eye chart) overnight. With this renewed ability to practice, Stanley reported he is most looking forward to resuming immunisations patrols to remote areas in his catchment.
Mr Lekons’ surgery was performed by Indian ophthalmologist, Dr Vivekaraj Jairaj, who is soon to join Pacific International Hospital as full time ophthalmologist. Dr Jairaj volunteered his services with the support of the Laila Foundation.
Director and Ophthalmic Consultant for Pacific International Hospital, Dr Amyna Sultan, said that she was delighted with the result of the collaborative effort.
“The YWAM Medical Ship gives us an excellent platform to reach rural and remote communities with eye care. The combination of both our resources and personnel has achieved a fantastic result.
“We look forward to continuing our important partnership as we work together to help combat blindness in rural PNG,” said Dr Sultan.
In addition to ophthalmic services, YWAM Medical Ships and Oro Provincial Health delivered immunisations, maternal heath services, health promotion, dentistry procedures, diagnostic services and training and support for local health workers. Over 2,400 patients were treated.
Aboard for the patrol was 100+ volunteers from 18 different nations, including 25 Papua New Guinean health professionals, mariners and general volunteers.
The MV YWAM PNG set sail for Siassi Island, Morobe Province, over the weekend for her next deployment.
Major supporters of YWAM Medical Ships include the PNG National Government, Puma Energy, Steamships Trading Company, PNG Ports Corp, Manolos Aviation, Oro, Morobe, Milne Bay, Central, Gulf and Western Provincial Governments, Sohe and Kiriwina-Goodenough District Development Authorities, Pro-Ma Systems, Trukai and the Australian Aid program.