Last year, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) announced the launch of the Australian and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF) as an internal RANZCO committee. This brought the charitable functions of the previous Eye Surgeons’ Foundation, ending in 2017, into RANZCO as an in-house function, thereby significantly reducing the administrative costs of the charity by drawing on RANZCO resources.
ANZEF’s mission is to raise funding for education and research that improves the quality of eye care in Australia, New Zealand and further afield, thereby improving the eye health of people who rely on that care. Any funds raised will be directed by the Foundation committee to support important education and research work in Australia, New Zealand and developing countries. ANZEF will raise funds for international development work that focusses on education and increasing the capacity and sustainability of eye care services in the Asia Pacific region. We will also raise funds for research through the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia (ORIA) and Save Sight New Zealand, and for education projects across Australia and New Zealand.
Since its inception, ANZEF has been working on putting in place the governance and processes for the charity, securing fundraising licences, developing strategy and plans, and communicating developments with members and the wider eye health community. It has also begun fundraising among RANZCO members, who have shown their support for ANZEF’s aims financially, and by offering their support and advice.
This process has been, and continues to be, very time intensive, but we are reaping rewards already. We are very pleased to be able to announce that we have now secured all of our fundraising licenses across Australia and New Zealand. This means that we are now able to receive funds from the public, as opposed to only from RANZCO members. We will therefore be reviving the JulEye campaign this year and working with partner organisations to build awareness of the important role that education and research play in improving eye care for patients across Australia, New Zealand and the wider Asia Pacific region.
If you or your organisation would be interested in working with ANZEF to promote eye care, education and research during JulEye, please contact us at ANZEF@ ranzco.edu. We welcome the opportunity to unite the eye health community to work together to raise awareness this JulEye.
ROP UPSKILLING IN PNG
In 2018, RANZCO teamed up with the University of Papua New Guinea and UNICEF (principal workshop funders) to conduct a five day workshop on retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) at the Port Moresby General Hospital.
The ROP workshop aimed to upskill eye care professionals, paediatricians and nursing staff in the identification and treatment of ROP in PNG. Equipment (an indirect ophthalmoscope – the traditional standard of care for ROP), was provided by ANZEF. Workshop participants were upskilled in the use of indirect ophthalmoscopy to detect ROP. On conclusion of the workshop the equipment was donated to the neonatal ward at the Port Moresby General Hospital. Special care nurses and neonatologists have been upskilled in oxygen administration and resuscitation procedures for premature infants.
“I had an amazing team from Australia – a specialist neonatal nurse from the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melissa Stewart, and a neonatologist from the Monash Children’s Hospital, Risha Bhatia – working with me,” said Associate Professor Susan Carden, an ophthalmologist at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne. “The medical and nursing staff in Port Moresby are passionate about providing the best possible care for their newborn patients and they were smart and keen to learn as much as possible. For my team, we were overwhelmed with their thirst for knowledge. The experience for us was tremendous and we hope to return to give a refresher course next year, and also to visit other provinces.
“Preventing newborns from going blind is one of the most important things that we can do. Teaching ophthalmologists in developing countries, such as Papua New Guinea, how to examine newborns’ eyes is incredibly rewarding. It means that there is the potential for sustainable management of newborn eye health and the prevention of lifetime blindness.”
Dr John Kennedy is the Chair of ANZEF. He is also chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at St Vincents Private Hospital in Sydney and has held a number of senior positions at RANZCO. He is currently also a member of RANZCO’s Code of Conduct Committee.