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Norm's Sumba Wrap Up

Norm's Sumba Wrap Up

Our trip to Sumba Indonesia this year was our most successful to date. The team has formed close links with the Ophthalmology department at Hasanuddin University in Sulawesi. The Australian team consisted of

  • Dr Mark Ellis (Team Leader)
  • Dr Jon Ruddle
  • Dr David Workman
  • Mr Norman Russo
  • Mr Peter Stewart
  • Mr Peter Lewis
  • Sr Alison Plain
  • Sr Tucker
  • Mrs Gaile Hoole
  • Mrs Janet Ellis
  • Mrs Anne Lewis

The team arrived in Indonesia via Bali and transited to Sumba on Sunday 14th September. As has happened before some equipment was left on the ground in Bali and the surgical team had to wait for some of their equipment until the Monday afternoon.

The help of Budi Winarto from the Indonesian consulate in Melbourne made the complex task of transitioning from international to domestic flights in Bali with a ½ tonne of gear a much smoother task. His assistance and good company is always greatly appreciated.

Our 2 eye care nurses Nefry and Sherly had been busy leading up to the teams' visit. They had been visiting outlying villages and screening for surgical cases and people needing glasses.

The Optometrists and eyecare nurses managed to see 866 people in 5 days and dispensed 693 pairs of spectacles and approximately 120 sunglasses.

The team worked with 3 trainee ophthalmologists and 2 qualified ophthalmologists from the Hasanuddin University. The optometry team were especially happy to welcome Dr Dhani Armiady, an ophthalmologist trainee from Sulawesi. Dhani worked with the Optometrists for the week and even managed to develop a taste for vegemite.

We were again welcomed by the local Governor and we were able to visit the local agricultural festival.

The ophthalmology team were kept very busy with cataract and pterygium cases. We also had a small girl come through who had been bitten on the face by a dog. Unfortunately this had scarred the tear duct and had been left so long it could not be repaired. We also had a boy come in who had fallen into a cactus and needed a number of thorns removed from his eye. Luckily the surgical team was able to get him into theatre immediately so this could be done under a general anaesthetic.

We were able to council a number of interesting genetic cases including some albino children and a boy whose skin is unable to defend itself from UV damage. This leaves him very prone to skin cancer. We were able to dispense sunglasses and hats to these children which will make a significant difference to their comfort.

The team has worked together for a number of years and seems to function as  a well oiled machine. We work long days with minimal breaks and the days seem to fly by. We are hoping that the program will be rolled out and expanded across the region of eastern Indonesia so that more people can be helped.

I would especially  like to congratulate Dr Mark Ellis, Peter Lewis and Peter Stewart who were all awarded honours in the Australia day and Queens Birthday honours list. This wonderful recognition of their work in East Timor and Indonesia was well deserved.