25 Feb 2008

Call to make eye care a priority in Pacific

2:50 pm on 25 February 2008

An eye doctor working in the Pacific says more governments should make eye care a priority.

The Director of the Pacific Eye Institute, Dr John Szetu, says it's estimated that 80,000 people in the Pacific region are blind or are visually impaired.

He says there is also an urgent need for more doctors to be trained up in the profession, as there are only 40 eye nurses and 12 eye doctors in the region.

Dr Szetu says the Fred Hollows Foundation in New Zealand has launched a fundraising campaign to help further his work.

"We need help in the Pacific. There is a lot of work to do, there's a lot of blind people in the Pacific who can receive eyecare services and operations which are needed to help them restore sight. And with the help of a generous New Zealand public we could achieve this."

He says an operation to restore someone's sight can cost as little as 20 US dollars.