Situation in Brief

With a small population, Palau has no eye specialist, and relies on visiting teams from Hawaii and mainland USA for retina and cataract treatments. Waiting lists are long. Although Palau has no blindness prevention plan or program, eye health has not been neglected altogether, with basic eye examinations provided at the Belau National Hospital (government hospital) by Dr Stevenson Kuartei, a practicing physician and former health minister. A need has been identified for training in basic ophthalmology for doctors and for training in primary eye care for nurses and other health workers. Diseases such as diabetes represent a growing problem, with an increasing number of poor people in isolated communities presenting with advanced retinopathies. Acute patients who can afford treatment offshore are referred to facilities in the Philippines. Palau has partnerships for training and specialised treatments with the Fiji School of Medicine and institutions in the US. Children are screened through a school health program and there is one private optometrist based at an optical shop in Koror. Much of the health system is supported by grants from the US government. IAPB visited Palau in October 2012.

Country Statistics

Indicator Value
Population: 21,000
Human development index value: 0.775
National Prevention of Blindness Committee active: No
National Eye Health Plan Developed: No
Cataract surgical rate: N/A
Number of ophthalmologists: 0
Blindness prevalence: N/A
Main causes of blindness: Diabetic retinopathy, cataract
Total expenditure on health as percentage of total government expenditure: 16.4
Diabetes prevalence: 18.5%
Improved drinking water coverage: 95%
Improved sanitation coverage: 100%
Endemic areas for trachoma: Unknown