Opticianry is not a regulated profession in Suriname, but there are plenty of practitioners and practices. In this article, Derrick Klaverweide of Optiek Ninon gives an insight into optics in Suriname.
Indicative figures show that there are five Optometrists, around 28 Opticians and 32 people practicing as refractionists in the country, which is part of South America. There are also five Ophthalmologists. There are 25 officially registered Optical Businesses with 45 total outlets, for a population of 558368 people (2016 figure).
Derrick says, “There are no optical organisation, hence the reason it is imperative for us to join organizations such as the IOA. Ultimately we would like to establish a local association as well.” Opticians are either trained on the job, or through training programs provided by foreign expertise and workshops. Derrick says, “Our business, Optiek Ninon is the only company with a full internal curriculum for refractionists.” This course is recognized by the Ministry of Health. Many people working in the industry have studied abroad and have foreign degrees and diplomas, mostly from the Netherlands.
Most Opticians in Suriname work with private companies/optical stores, or have their own business. Opticians in Suriname are allowed to do eye examinations as well as prescribe prescription lenses and contacts. The optician is recognized by insurance providers and is allowed to reimburse/claim. The optometrist however is not. The optician is not allowed to diagnose and to administer treatment. As regards to the optometrists, some work with Optical companies and some work alongside the Ophthalmologists in the hospitals. All ophthalmologists work with hospitals.
The current challenges for opticians in Suriname, according to Derrick are:
• To stay up to date and benefit from continuous training
• To provide training for staff
• To keep up with the demand for eye care with the limited resources available
• To access the rural areas to provide eye care
• For optometrists the biggest challenge is to fully benefit from their expertise and the ability to reimburse from insurance
The biggest achievements for opticians in Suriname in recent years has been to be recognized by the insurance industry and given the ability to reimburse. Before this every person needed a referral or prescription from the Ophthalmologist before visiting the optician. Derrick adds, “We also are proud to maintain a relatively high standard of eye care with the limited resources.”
If you want to find out about practicing in Suriname, Derrick says, “For now the best organization to provide training would be Optiek Ninon unfortunately. However we are in the process to setup a full time course for Optician together with the Polytechnic College of Suriname , which should be starting this year.” He adds, if you want to work in Suriname, “We usually place vacancies in de Dutch magazines (Oculus magazine), local newspapers (www.dwtonline.com) and on social media.”
Topic: Country spotlight