This year’s Taveuni Eye Project in Fiji was run very successfully from Monday, 7 October to Friday, 18 October.
One of the surgeons is Dr Jeffrey Rutgard (left), an ophthalmologist from Mililani in Hawaii.  He received his medical degree from University of Illinois College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.  Since 1999 he has participated in over 170 eye missions, performed over 100,000 humanitarian eye examinations and over 11,000 humanitarian eye surgeries which have transformed the lives of those in impoverished locations worldwide.  He has trained over 1,000 ophthalmologists worldwide to perform Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS).  This is his fourteenth mission to Fiji and has brought untold benefits to the people of this country with cataract issues.
The primary goal of the Taveuni Eye Project is to give sight to children and adults from the more remote and rural areas of Fiji.  The 14th annual Taveuni Eye Project (TEP) 2019 was successfully funded and fully approved thanks to the help of many donors from across Australia and New Zealand.
As to be expected there is a lot of preparation for such a project.  New equipment was brought into Taveuni and was commissioned ready for service before the medical staff arrived. The required medical supplies were also brought in and also the schedule for the surgical operations was completed.
In preparation for the project the Fiji Society for the Blind completed screening across rural Fiji and in consultation with Rotary Club of Taveuni allocated places in the project to some 300 patients.  This process included compiling patient lists and implementing travel plans.  As per previous years it was expected that an additional 30 to 50 people would walk in to the hospital during the project.
The medical team assembled from Friday the preceding week with the local support teams also working to get the hospital ready for a Monday start.
The 2019 project saw the introduction by the Rotary Club of Taveuni of a website which was updated daily with the progress of the project.  See where the daily reports detailing the project as it progressed can be viewed.  Following is a snapshot from the website.
Bhan Mati is having her second eye attended to today.  She comes from Nasarwaqa village in Bua province.  She is staying with her son and daughter in law on Taveuni Island so that she can easily access the hospital.  She is a good Fijian and has added six daughters and four boys to the population!  Her husband has an unusual occupation – he manages livestock; sheep, goats, cattle, chickens and ducks.  Bhan has twenty nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.  A wonderful family.
Final roundup of the project:
  • Cataracts                             216
  • Pterygiums                         81
  • Others                                  7
  • Total operations               304
In addition to the above surgical procedures, 118 people completed eye and health checks and did not need any intervention.  That makes a total of over 400 people treated.
The Rotary Clubs of Taveuni, Newmarket and Boronia would like to extend sincere thanks to all those Rotary clubs, Rotary districts and Rotarians who assisted with fundraising, sunglasses collection and the provision of linen, supplies and services – WELL DONE ALL.
Work has already commenced on the 2020 project with a number of Rotary clubs and districts across the world making pledges in their budgets for future Rotary years.  Perhaps more clubs could consider making provision in their budgets for a contribution to the project for future years.  It is expected that the formal application for the 2020 Rotary Global Grant to be finalised around May 2020.