NEWS

Early Detection Breakthrough For Diabetics Eyesight

There was a 104 per cent increase in diabetic retinopathy referrals from community health workers in Fiji recently. This is all thanks to the Diabetic Retinopathy Awareness Training from a
02 Aug 2022 16:54
Early Detection Breakthrough For Diabetics Eyesight
A community eye screening in Nadi, Fiji.

There was a 104 per cent increase in diabetic retinopathy referrals from community health workers in Fiji recently.

This is all thanks to the Diabetic Retinopathy Awareness Training from a new non-government organisation in New Zealand.

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes.

It is responsible for the highest rate of avoidable blindness in the Pacific among the working age population.

 

The work has been a priority for The Hollows Foundation NZ and it has worked in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Pacific Eye Institute to this training to over 800 community health workers in the region.

If detected early, patients can receive treatment to stop it worsening and resulting in vision loss.

Fiji-based researcher, Sharan Ram, contracted by The Foundation, conducted a study to understand the impact of the training on community health workers’ knowledge and referral practices.

 

“Through one’s interactions with the community health workers, one is able to feel first-hand they are truly passionate about their work and that there is an element of intrinsic motivation,” she said.

“The spirit of volunteerism, which drives them to do what they love to do, and get personal satisfaction out of that.”

Funded by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, the training aimed to improve diabetic eye care services in Fiji by increasing their knowledge of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.

 

The study found that the community health workers’ knowledge of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy had improved significantly after the training, and that they were more confident in raising awareness of the disease and appropriately referring diabetes patients to health facilities.

The foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Audrey Aumua, said it was fantastic for the foundation to see big improvements in their area of work.

“As the leading cause of avoidable blindness in the working age population, it is an important area of focus for us,” she said.

 

Feedback: josefa.babitu@fijisun.com.fj



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