Celebrating 30 Years of Restoring Sight at Parliament

Last night, the Hon Aupito William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples and Minister for Courts, hosted an event at Parliament Buildings to celebrate 30 Years of Restoring Sight.

The event acknowledged Pacific eye care and the successes of The Fred Hollows Foundation over the last 30 years, which this year reached a milestone of performing over one million eye care consultations throughout the Pacific, in conjunction with local partners.

The Foundation, which started as a small charity to continue the work of Kiwi eye surgeon, Professor Fred Hollows, is now a global organisation that works in more than 25 countries worldwide and has restored sight to over three million people

The NZ Foundation initially focussed on raising money to support the global organisation. Then, in 2002, it began working in the Pacific with local partners to restore sight to the needlessly blind and vision impaired, train local eye health specialists to provide eye care services in their own communities, and work to strengthen local health systems so that everyone can access quality eye care. 

Since The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ began working in the Pacific, with local partners it has achieved:

  • Over one million people have received eye care consultations.
  • Over 81,000 people have had sight-saving surgeries.
  • 327 people have trained and graduated as eye care specialists.
  • There is at least one eye doctor in all of the seven key Pacific countries where The Foundation works.

Minister of Health and Medical Services for Fiji, the Hon Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete, spoke virtually at the event, saying, “The Foundation and the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services have been working closely for over 20 years, during which the landscape of eye care in Fiji has improved significantly. We look forward to continuing to work closely with The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ to meet the challenges of the future and expand access to eye care for all Fijians through a robust eye health system.”

Sir Maarten Wevers, Deputy Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, spoke at the event, saying it was an honour to celebrate a very successful 30 years of The Foundation. “To celebrate 30 Years of The Foundation means to celebrate Professor Fred Hollows – a Kiwi legend who dedicated his life to restoring sight to the needlessly blind. He was determined to end avoidable blindness, just as his Foundation is today.

As well as Fred, I would also like to acknowledge the incredible staff of The Foundation over the years, both in the Pacific and in New Zealand, as well as all the Pacific Ministries of Health that The Foundation has had the honour of working with, without whom the sight-restoring work that has been achieved in the Pacific could not have been reached.”

Dr Audrey Aumua (left) and Sir Maarten Wevers (right) speaking at the celebration
Dr Audrey Aumua (left) and Sir Maarten Wevers (right) speaking at the celebration

Also at the event was Dr Audrey Aumua, Chief Executive Officer of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, who said, “As we reflect now on Fred’s legacy - a hugely successful 30 Years of Restoring Sight – we must acknowledge our Pacific partners. These are the Pacific governments, Ministries of Health, universities, and other partners, who we work hand-in-hand with to strengthen eye care systems throughout the Pacific. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to continue working towards our vision of a world where no one is needlessly blind or vision impaired.”

“As Fred said, ‘It’s obscene to let people go blind when they don’t need to.’ As a Foundation, we have spent the last decades working with our Pacific partners to do everything in our power to make sure this doesn’t happen, and we will continue to do the same for the next 30 years.”

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