Blindness in Palau
Palau is a country in the western Pacific Ocean, made up of approximately 340 islands. It has a publicly-owned healthcare system that is largely funded by taxes and grants from the United States. Palau has only one central hospital located on its most populous island, Koror. Although there are some primary care centers scattered throughout the country, people living in remote areas of Palau have great difficulty accessing medical care.
One of Palau’s biggest challenges is the serious shortage in qualified healthcare workers. In addition, the majority of those already working are underprepared. This presents serious problems with the quality of healthcare that patients are receiving.
Palau does not have a single ophthalmologist residing in the country. Patients with serious eye conditions must travel out of the country to receive treatment. However, many cannot afford to do so and rely on foreign doctors and organizations, such as SEE International, to host clinics in the country.
SEE in Palau
In 2017, SEE held two clinics in Palau. The first was a collaboration with Hawaiian Eye Foundation at the Palau Government Hospital, where 71 patients received sight-restoring surgeries, and another 325 patients had vital eye screenings. In September 2017, SEE volunteer ophthalmologist, Dr. Jeffrey Ing, performed 15 surgeries and an equal number of screenings, providing patients with treatment and care that they otherwise might not have received.