The Sumba Eye Program (SEP) in Indonesia was established in 2007 to support the delivery of eye care services to the large number of patients with avoidable blindness and low vision on the island of Sumba, Indonesia.
Until 2020 the program worked in partnership with a local NGO to provide medical and surgical services at nominated hospitals in Indonesia’s Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) Province. The program services were provided in the form of intensive outreach clinics, which were delivered annually at the main hospital, Rumah Sakit Umum Daerah (RSUD) Waikabubak
Each year, a team comprising RACS Fellows, optometrists, ophthalmologists and nurses volunteered their time and skills to work with Indonesian national partners to perform consultations and operations and distribute spectacles and sunglasses over one-week visits.
During each visit, approximately 750 patients were screened, with 90 to 120 patients receiving sight-restoring or preserving surgery, improving their function and mobility and enabling them to return to productive work in the family and community. The predominant surgery carried out by the visiting teams was cataract surgery.
From 2012 to 2016, the SEP increased its focus on building the capacity of the local and regional health staff through teaching and training of Indonesian health personnel. This effort to support the establishment of sustainable local infrastructure for eye care in Sumba led to ophthalmologists and ophthalmology trainees from Hasanuddin University joining the SEP clinics for training and collaboration.
From 2017 to 2020, the SEP focused on outreach clinical eye services that delivered specialist ophthalmology, optometry and eye health services to the population in Sumba, and training support for Indonesian eye health personnel through bi-annual visits from clinical specialists from Australia and New Zealand.
Some of the key program activities include:
- Visiting Medical Teams (VMTs) under the auspices and in partnership with Hasanuddin University e.g. clinical activities, consultations, operations.
- Outreach clinics e.g. patient screening, referrals, spectacle dispensing, on-the-job training, and education.
- Continuing professional development (CPD) e.g. mentoring, short courses, conferences, practical experience.
Outcome and impact
To reduce avoidable blindness and vision impairment in Indonesia, by providing quality ophthalmology and eye care services, including refractive correction, and by building the capacity of the local eye health workforce.
Key achievements have included:
- Fifteen VMT visits to Sumba providing training, screening, ophthalmology and optometry inputs.
- More than 12,500 patient consultations and screenings for eye disease during VMT visits.
- Support for the delivery of 1187 operations, to restore sight and treat eye conditions, conducted in partnership with Hasanuddin University counterparts.
- Four local eye nurses trained to conduct screening and dispense spectacles, including provision of equipment to support their work.