Changing lives in Sumba

Changing lives in Sumba

On the road to sustainability

For the past five years Optometry Giving Sight, through its donors and sponsors, has contributed funding towards The Sumba Eye Program (SEP), established in 2007.

Much of the ongoing work in Sumba is centered on increasing the eye care skill levels of the Eye Care Nurses (ECN), but the long-term aim is to increase the capacity of local health professionals to sustain the program independently.

According to optometrists and project team leaders Peter Lewis and Peter Stewart, the August 2015 SEP trip was “highly successful by every benchmark”. The team screened close to 700 people, dispensed more than 600 spectacles and referred 95 patients for assessment, with 80 surgical cases including 68 cataracts.

“We have continued to see an enhancement in the skills, enthusiasm and engagement of the ECNs, particularly evident in the increasing number and suitability of referred patients,” said Peter Lewis. “The ECNs are evidently playing a pivotal role in the development of eye health, and health-care as a whole, in the region.”

Peter in Sumba

Andrew taking keratometry for cataract surgery (Photo courtesy: Andrew Thomas)

South Australian optometrist Andrew Thomas was also part of the trip, which he won as part of an Essilor sponsored raffle at the 2014 ProVision annual conference.

“To have witnessed a community with so little and yet been able to help so many with the simplest of aids was humbling”, said Andrew.

The program’s ongoing success and sustainability also relies on the close relationships the SEP team has developed with key local institutions and organisations.

“It is our aim to eventually achieve a complete hand-over of the program and its activities to Indonesia and our evolving relationships with key in-country stakeholders demonstrates our progress towards this aim,” said Peter.

While not everyone can volunteer their time, becoming a regular donor supports the work of Optometry Giving Sight. Every donation, large or small, can change someone’s life through the gift of vision.