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Volunteer Nancy Chang with a patient in 2013

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An outreach program working to prevent blindness among Vanuatuans is seeking volunteer optometrists to join health-care teams travelling to the island nation this year.

The Vanuatu prevention of blindness project is looking for at least eight optometrists to join groups of doctors, nurses, dentists and ophthalmologists. The teams will travel to Vanuatu in two-week blocks from 22 May to 22 August.

Don MacRaild, a former school teacher from Victoria, has been co-ordinating the project with his wife for 15 years. He says that before they started the program there was no eye care in the country.

‘There were two so-called optometrists who were operating in Port Vila and they were dealing only with expats. Once you got out of Port Vila, you wouldn’t find any way in which you could get primary eye care. You certainly couldn’t get any surgery done,’ he said.

Optometrists who join the project will spend time working in local clinics and training local eye-care workers on the islands of Ambrym, Pentecost and Maewo. For further information contact Don MacRaild on 03 5145 4266 or email dmacraild@hotmail.com.

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