Blindness in Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands is an archipelago country in the Pacific Ocean. There are 24 inhabited islands, yet only two hospitals in the entire country – one in Ebeye and one in Majuro. This creates huge challenges for Marshallese living on less populated islands, who cannot easily access medical care for serious conditions. The World Health Organization reported that one of the greatest barriers to strengthening their health care system is the lack or unreliability of transportation to the outer islands. It reports that outreach teams who visit the outer islands are the main source of delivering primary healthcare services. This means that citizens living in the remote parts of the country have little to no access to care year-round. Quality of health care is also uneven, with many areas facing a shortage of supplies, equipment, and medical staff.
A major health issue in the country is its highest prevalence of diabetes. Over one-fifth of the population is diabetic, which results in a large number of diabetic retinopathy cases. With only one ophthalmologist residing in the entire country and no national eye care plan, many will never get the treatment they need. Patients with the resources to do so seek treatment abroad in Hawaii or the Philippines. However, many who cannot afford to do so rely on visiting teams like SEE International.
SEE in Marshall Islands
In 2017, SEE partnered with Canvasback Missions to provide sight-restoring surgeries to 191 patients at Majuro Hospital. SEE provided support in the form of advanced surgical equipment and supplies to ensure that patients were able to receive high-quality care that they otherwise might not have access to.