Iakoba’s initial eye care experience came two years ago when PIMA’s volunteer optometrist Dr. Scott Pike of Portland traveled to Christmas Island to train local nurses in primary eye care and to dispense eyeglasses and to subsequently recommend Iakoba for the scholarship. (more info.)
Following Iakoba’s one year study at the institute and the award of his postgraduate diploma in eye care, he will be prepared to return home to Kiribati and train fellow nurses throughout the country, Dr. Pike said.
He is expected to begin his studies this month ( February ) and said he is looking forward to being able return to Christmas Island and be of service in Kiribati’s Line Islands.
“This will be a giant step forward in a nation where many islanders have no access to eye care,” Pike said. “We are really proud of Iakoba for receiving this award. He was one of the very brightest and best of our students when we did the training. He showed a serious interest in eye care.”
“Thank you Dr. Pike and Pacific Islands Medical Aid for your help in everything regarding my training,” Iakoba said, “otherwise I would not have this opportunity.”
The Pacific Eye Institute (PEI), located in Suva, Fiji, is the Pacific region’s first training facility for eye health professionals in that part of the world, according to Carlton Smith, president of Pacific Islands Medical Aid (PIMA). It is an initiative of, and funded by the Fred Hollows Foundation in Australia and New Zealand.
“Dr. Pike trained Iakoba and recommended him to the Eye Institute,” Smith said. “We really appreciate Dr. Pike’ service to PIMA and to the people of this isolated central Pacific region.”
Smith said that postgraduate students at the Pacific Eye Institute are trained specifically to provide eye care in the Pacific region. “They gain a solid academic basis for their practice and considerable supervised practical experience in an environment similar to the clinics in their own countries, he said. Congratulations and best of luck to Iakoba!