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Photo: Associate Professor Jacqueline Ramke

Equity in Eye Health

I became interested in eye health when I was finishing high school because Fred Hollows was Australian of the Year (despite being a Kiwi!). Fred’s work with indigenous Australians and in global eye health to address inequity inspired me to pursue a career in eye health. I studied optometry in Brisbane and worked in indigenous eye health before living in Timor-Leste and working with the Ministry of Health to develop the first National Eye Health Program. My work in Timor-Leste revealed a lack of evidence on how to implement services that reduce inequity in eye health, so this was the focus of my PhD after leaving Timor-Leste and settling in New Zealand.

I continued to explore equity in eye health during my recent Commonwealth Rutherford Postdoctoral Fellowship at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, with a particular focus on cataract services in low and middle-income countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. My time in London also involved joining the Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health, and we are finalising the Commission Report in the coming months.

I’m excited to be back in New Zealand and plan to develop a research programme to improve access to eye care and reduce inequality. I am committed to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles of partnership, participation and protection and aim  to collaborate widely to contribute to the Hauora/Oranga objective set out in the Vision Mātauranga.