NZ-designed sustainable technology supporting eye health in Papua New Guinea

Dr David Pahau, Head of Ophthalmology Department, Madang Provincial Hospital Eye Clinic, stands with Henry Cassin, Director of Imperium Technologies, in front of the solar system.

A New Zealand-designed and built solar energy solution will now ensure critical eye surgery in Papua New Guinea can continue safely.

The innovative solar system in a box, commissioned by The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, will provide reliable and renewable power to the Foundation-supported Madang Eye Clinic which experiences regular power interruptions, affecting delicate eye surgery.  The system was designed and built by Imperium Technologies and installed into a container which Timber Construction Solutions specifically fitted out for this purpose.

Using renewable energy from the sun, the solar-electric system containing 160 photovoltaic panels and six batteries all run from a 20-foot shipping container, will ensure a consistent and reliable power source for Madang Eye Clinic, including for the critical operating theatres and computer servers. The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ is incredibly grateful for the funding provided for this by The Australian NGO Cooperation Program; The Pacific Development and Conservation Trust; and the thousands of New Zealanders who donate to The Foundation.

The Madang Eye Clinic, which sees between 5,000 and 8,000 patients per year and hosts the only training programme for eye nurses in Papua New Guinea, forms the centre of The Foundation’s work with local partners in Papua New Guinea, a country experiencing some of the highest prevalence of preventable blindness in the world.

The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ Chief Executive, Dr Audrey Aumua, says, “Delivering innovative, renewable, and cost-effective eye care facilities is one of the ways The Foundation partners with governments and Ministries of Health in the Pacific region to develop each country’s capability to deliver quality, affordable eye health services. Avoidable blindness and vision impairment affects not only the individual but the community and economy as well. By working with local partners to increase access to eye care services, such as cataract surgery and diabetes eye disease treatment, we can help to make a significant impact on the social and economic wellbeing of Pacific nations.”

Lucinda Gulluman-Kisip, The Foundation’s Papua New Guinea Country Manager, says, “This much-needed technology will certainly improve efficiency at the Madang Eye Clinic, particularly with cataract surgery. It will make a big difference and really increase the numbers of people we are able to support with improved vision on a monthly basis. The Madang Eye Clinic also serves patients from other parts of the country. With this technology input, the eye clinic will now have enhanced capability that allows more people to have access to eye health services.”

Mr. Fidelis Waipma, Chief Executive Officer of the Madang Provincial Health Authority (PHA), who work closely with Madang Eye Clinic, says “We are very pleased with the level of service provided by the Madang Eye Clinic, which is supported by The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ to help in the training of eye care nurses from across Papua New Guinea.  Given the size of the population in the Madang province, the eye clinic is key to improving the wellbeing of many people. On top of this, the Madang Eye Clinic is synonymous with the delivery of quality eye care and attracts a large number of patients from other parts of Papua New Guinea, so the clinic is important both locally and nationally. This new equipment is fantastic as it will help to enhance the service delivery function of this clinic and benefit even more people. The Madang PHA has a strong determination to maintain this relationship with The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ going forward into the future, for the greater benefit of our rural population.”

ENDS

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