International Programs

RANZCO’s international development activities are guided by its mission and its obligations as a member of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), Vision2020 Australia, and the International Council of Ophthalmology (ICO). Fellows participate in activities, meetings and initiatives of ACFID, IAPB, Vision2020 Australia and the ICO. Best practice development guidelines, oversight mechanisms and rigorous project management systems underline all development activities of RANZCO.

RANZCO works in partnership with local stakeholders in the Asia Pacific, and as part of consortia, to build capacity in ophthalmic education and professional standards for eye care.

The International Development Committee (IDC) provides strategic guidance to RANZCO on international education and training matters and oversees the implementation of development programs.

International Development Workshop

The RANZCO International Development Workshops are held annually in conjunction with the RANZCO Annual Congress and serve to champion eye care education and professional standard in the Asia Pacific region. They are attended by ophthalmologists and interested eye health professionals from both Australia/New Zealand and international visitors.

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International Scholarships

The RANZCO International Scholarship Program, overseen by the College International Development Committee (IDC), is aimed at developing eye care education and professional standards in support of the Vision 2020: Right to Sight initiative that seeks to eliminate avoidable blindness and vision impairment by 2020. To ensure a meaningful engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, RANZCO seeks to link the scholarships program with operational education and training activities in developing countries. Every year the IDC reviews eligibility and prioritises countries based on education and training projects run by the College and opportunities that may arise through our engagement with Vision 2020 Global Committee members.

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"Out of the approximated 14,952,662 population of Cambodia, an estimated 43,800 people are bilaterally blind and a further 333,591 people live with visual impairment. Approximately 90% of all bilateral blindness is avoidable."


"Diabetic retinopathy and corneal disease largely affect the working age population, this can have a negative effect on an individual's opportunity to earn a living and support dependants, or access other opportunities."

Building on successful capacity building projects at the Pacific Eye Institute (PEI) based in Suva, Fiji of the preceding years (with the program commencing in 2011), RANZCO continues to facilitate visits by Fellows to undertake short-term lecturers in priority areas and act as external examiners. The Project, in collaboration with Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand, aims to strengthen the capacity of PEI to train ophthalmologists from across the Pacific Islands’ region and ensure local eye care professionals have increased technical capacity.  Visiting Fellows contribute to the training programs through providing training and expertise in specialised areas of ophthalmology and strengthening the examination process by providing an external examiner.

Hosted by RANZCO, a Pacific Links Steering Committee oversees the development of RANZCO-PacEYES and RANZCO-PEI/FHFNZ relationships (Pacific Links program). The program is aimed at building capacity in low resource settings and to allow for mutual learning. 

The Pacific Links program builds on pre-existing relationships, with the objective to further strengthen local capacity and professional expertise to address diabetic retinopathy and related eye health service delivery in the Pacific (RANZCO-PEI/FHFNZ link) funded by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

The program also includes a mutual cooperation and exchange program between RANZCO and the Pacific Eye-Care Society (PacEYES), with the objective to strengthen the capacity of PacEYES as a credible organisation capable of leading the fight against eliminating avoidable blindness in the Pacific islands region.

Activities to help capacity build PacEYES include leadership development - enhancing skills of PacEYES members as clinical decision makers, communicators, collaborators, managers, health advocates, scholars, and professionals. This program included scholarships to attend RANZCO Congress, participate in the international workshop, present projects to peers (RANZCO Fellows and PacEYES ophthalmologists) and participate in an intensive leadership program.

RANZCO continues to develop program activities in the Pacific islands region. Teaching visits to the Regional Eye Centre (REC) in Honiara, Solomon Islands commenced in 2016 with the focus on strengthening the Centre as a diabetic eye care and NCD training facility.

Discussions on enhancing the PNG ophthalmology resident training program following the establishment of a National Resource Centre in Port Moresby through Lions funding, and RANZCO informed in-country consultations on strategic ophthalmic direction in PNG let to the PNG Curriculum Scoping visit conducted in late 2016 with a view to conducting a Ophthalmology Curriculum Review in 2017.


Regional Leadership Development Program participants with RANZCO faculty



The most common causes of blindness in Cambodia are cataract, corneal scarring, posterior segment diseases and glaucoma. Other risk factors and diseases leading to blindness include eye injury, diabetic retinopathy and Vitamin A deficiency. RANZCO works with local partners in Cambodia to build the capacity of the ophthalmology workforce and strengthen eye health systems.

As part of the East Asia Vision Program (EAVP) funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and implemented through the Vision 2020 Australia Global Consortium, RANZCO collaborates with Cambodian stakeholders to increase the quality of ophthalmology training and capacity of the University of Health Sciences’ (UHS) teaching faculty and supervisors (2013-2016).

This second phase of engagement follows on an earlier project (2007-2011), established through donor support to respond to the need for more ophthalmologists, that led to the establishment and development of an ophthalmology resident training (ORT) program.  The main implementing agencies for the Project were the UHS and Cambodian Ministry of Health (MoH), The Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) and Eye Care Foundation (ECF) with RANZCO as a collaborating partner.

During the EAVP (2013-2016), RANZCO and the UHS reviewed and further developed the Cambodian Ophthalmology Residency Training (ORT) program curriculum and assessment methodology. Activities included capacity building local teaching faculty through participation in desk reviews, workshops on curriculum and assessment, external examiner exchanges, clinical teaching workshops, trialing and running of an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), writing exam questions, and developing a skills lab. RANZCO Fellows constituted visiting teaching faculty and technical briefs were provided to align with revised curriculum.

The EAVP (2013-2016) also involved strengthening the Cambodia Ophthalmological Society (COS) through the establishment of a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program, revision of the COS website and RANZCO Fellows sharing their expertise through participation in the biannual continuing medical education meetings of the COS.

APAO Leadership Development Program


RANZCO supports the annual  Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology  Leadership Development Program (APAO LDP) by providing faculty and financial support.

The APAO LDP for 2016 started at the APAO Congress in Taipei in March 2016, where we had the opportunity to see the presentations of the 2015 alumni and to undertake the first training sessions of the LDP. The group of 2016 includes participants from Bangladesh, Chinese, Taipei, Hong kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.  

After Taipei, the next meeting was the masterclass; a three-day retreat in September 2016 in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. The masterclass is often hosted by a national ophthalmological society that might not have the opportunity to host a full APAO conference, and Ulan Bator certainly provided an interesting location. The masterclass provided formal training in topics including effective communication, the practicalities of negotiating relationships outside of standard clinical ones, and a series of tools relevant ot advocacy.

February 2017 saw the APAO LDP head to Singapore for the third and final face-to-face of the APAO 2016 LDP, where each participant presented their personal project undertaken and which forms an important part of the LDP. The APAO LDP has been successful in assisting interested ophthalmologists to move into leadership positions; to date 31 alumni have taken up positions on standing committees of APAO.

APAO Leadership Development Program 2015-2016




RANZCO has worked with Vietnamese ophthalmologists building capacity in the specialty areas of Retina, Cornea and Paediatrics through the facilitation of Fellowships at LV Prasad Eye Institute, India during 2014 and 2015. The Fellowships will develop local expertise to manage these priority eye health issues, and will mean that local ophthalmologists are better positioned  to teach the next generation in these specialties.

"It has been estimated that there are 1.4 million blind children in the word, 1 million of whom live in Asia. Nearly two-thirds of diabetics living in the developing world. This will inevitably lead to an increase in ocular complications related to diabetes in those countries."


RANZCO is building on past activities with the Indonesian College of Ophthalmology (Kolegium Oftalmologi Indonesia) through examiner exchanges and providing opportunities for RANZCO and KOI representatives to participate in inter-college activities, and also scholarships to attend RANZCO Congress.