Moldova Human Resource Development Programme in Eye Care Commences
Optometry Giving Sight is pleased to be part of a consortium of organizations contributing to the elimination of visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive error in Moldova, through the delivery of a collaborative course delivered by Australian and Norwegian optometric educators which includes lectures, self-study time and strengthening workshops to reduce the rate of uncorrected refractive errors.
“This is a fantastic achievement to finally deliver this training,” said Hans Bjørn Bakketeig from Norwegian NGO, Help Moldova. “The first graduates from the programme will be providing optometry services from September 2015, and will be the first to help deliver sustainable eye care to thousands of people in Moldova”. Mr Bakketeig is the World Council of Optometry’s 2012 International Optometrist of the Year and has been providing voluntary eye care services to people in Moldova for many years.
Situated between the Ukraine and Romania in Eastern Europe, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, with 17.5% of the population living below the national poverty line. There are approximately 210 ophthalmologists to serve the population of approximately 3.6 million inhabitants (plus 600,000 residents of the Transnistria region).
The programme is being implemented by the Brien Holden Vision Institute in collaboration with Nicolae Testemitanu State University, Help Moldova, the Norwegian Association of Optometry, the Norway Optometry School and the Moldova State University of Medicine and Pharmacy (ophthalmology department), Optometry Giving Sight and Norwegian Foreign Affairs.
Stephanie Looi, Global Service Development Manager, from the Brien Holden Vision Institute commented “It is a privilege to be working in such a strong collaboration. The University's passion for delivering quality education to their students combined with Help Moldova's long history of working in Moldova and Optometry Giving Sight's mission of elimination of avoidable blindness is a perfect match for the Institute's expertise in building sustainable education initiatives. We are sure that this is just the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.”
Highlighting the importance of the programme’s collaboration Anne Jervell, Optometry Giving Sight Chair, Norway, said “We are so thankful to all of our supporters for making this programme a reality. The funding provided has also raised the profile of the need for this important programme, and the Norwegian Foreign Affairs have also agreed to provide support which is incredible.”
The next phase of training involving the delivery of 2 additional courses will be carried out in September 2014 and Spring 2015.
Interestingly, the national sport of Moldova is Trânta, a form of wrestling practiced upright or from the knees. Moldova is also renowned for its beautiful rolling hills and picturesque landscape, with woodlands, farms and villages ideal for biking and hiking.