Growing Leadership in Eye Health in the Pacific Islands Region

  • John Szetu
  • Biu Sikivou
  • Marleen Nilesse
  • Judith McCoolEmail author


Around the world, millions live with visual impairments, including blindness. Health systems in many low- and middle-income countries lack the resources to prioritize and provide adequate eye care at a population level. Reliance on international development assistance for health often provided in the form of visiting healthcare professionals has been effective only as an interim measure and has stifled advancement toward independence in managing national health systems. The Pacific Eye Institute (PEI) established to deliver eye health services and training for Fiji and across Pacific Islands is the focus of this case study. The PEI presents a distinctive model of health service and capacity building tailored to meet the needs of the Pacific region. The model focuses on training local expertise in all areas of eye health, including ophthalmology and specialist eye care nursing. Alumni of the PEI training are encouraged to remain or return to the country that they serve. With new challenges emerging in eye health, namely, diabetic retinopathy, an organized, competent, and resourced cadre of eye health specialists is vital. The PEI model is an exemplar of what is possible when a health service is built upon the principle and practice of long-term investment into high-quality training for the Pacific region, delivered by Pacific expertise.


Pacific region Capacity development Labor mobility Mentoring Ophthalmology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Szetu
    • 1
  • Biu Sikivou
    • 2
  • Marleen Nilesse
    • 3
  • Judith McCool
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Regional Eye CenterHoniaraSolomon Islands
  2. 2.Pacific Eye InstituteSuvaFiji
  3. 3.Fred Hollows Foundation NZAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.School of Population HealthUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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