UKM’s optometry students provide primary eye care services to 324 villagers in Sarawak

Kampung Santubong, a quiet yet charming fishing village in Kuching, Sarawak, came alive on April 28, when it hosted the 31st Optometry Community Service Operation.

Themed ‘Your vision is our mission’, the one-day affair was organised by a group of young and enthusiastic optometry students from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

The programme is an ongoing effort by the university’s Optometry Student Association to provide eye check-ups for villagers in Malaysia. These services not only allow the students to practice their clinical skills, but also help them connect with the rich culture and traditions of the local communities.

Such hands-on experience is vital in preparing and ensuring that our graduates are competent and ready to serve, not only in Malaysia, but also globally.

I was joined by the faculty’s head of Optometry and Vision Sciences programme, Dr Norliza Mohamad Fadzil, and optometry officer Norhafizun Saman, as advisors to the group. The event was officially inaugurated by Sarawak Foundation director, Mersal Abang Rosli, who highlighted the state government’s commitment to supporting educational and health initiatives.

In line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the programme aimed to provide quality education, promote the wellbeing of people of all ages, and foster a spirit of partnerships. The programme was made possible thanks to the support of Wong Ching Fook from La Calisto Sdn Bhd – the event’s main sponsor.

Other supporters of the programme included Sarawak Foundation, Bank Simpanan Nasional, Association of Malaysian Optometrists (AMO), and UKM Optometry Alumni.

A total of 324 individuals had their eyes examined, and 182 pairs of eye glasses were distributed to those who needed them, for free. Those who needed spectacles were given either ready-to-wear, or suitable recycled glasses.

The donated recycled spectacles were a collaborative effort between UKM and Konan University of Kobe, Japan. This is the third time Konan University has collaborated with UKM to arrange for the delivery of recycled glasses for use by the local community.

The collection team in Japan consisted of student volunteers who diligently cleaned and measured the recycled spectacles before shipping them to UKM. The project would not have been possible without the support of the Lions Club International Multiple District 335 Governor’s Council and local opticians in the community.

This ‘Your vision is our mission’ initiative has not only enhanced the students’ learning experiences, but also brought primary eye care services to the residents of Kampung Santubong. This demonstrates the power of community support and partnerships in changing the quality of lives, something UKM is constantly striving for.