Asia, Federated States of Micronesia, YAP: Self-sustainable eye clinic, cataracts, retina, medical education
John Corboy on behalf of Hawaiian Eye Foundation (HEF), USA


Developing a long-term eye care system in Micronesia.

The project

The isolation of Pacific Islanders restricts their access to health care. In Yap, nearly 50% of individuals are diabetic, increasing their risk for eye diseases. However, with education and monitoring, blindness can often be prevented or delayed. By gifting sight, a patient gains independence and the ability to care for their families and villages. In the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), there is only one eye care provider, in Pohnpei – the other states are without any eye care. Surveys show that many primary health care providers are unaware of ophthalmic conditions or how to deal with optic traumas and so many patients go blind unnecessarily.

This initiative will establish the first self-sustainable surgical eye center in FSM. Simultaneously, it will train local health workers to serve every village, extending the reach to the whole state. Eventually, this campaign will extend to the whole country and throughout Micronesia. This project will directly benefit at least 1,000 people over the next two years while an eye care system is developed that will eventually serve the entire country.

To date, government approval has been obtained, a building acquired, and training of health care workers is underway. By 2020, the clinic will be self-sustainable and run by the Yapese. Other ophthalmic subspecialists will be brought in to broaden the spectrum of care provided, continue surgeries, begin certification of local nurses and technicians, and assist in an overarching diabetes awareness campaign and physical fitness center. Eventually the program will extend to the other unserved states of the FSM. This is the beginning of the long-term solution for eye care in the FSM, developed with and for Micronesians, as requested by Micronesians.

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