The Inaugural Fred Hollows’ Lecture was held at the University of Otago last Thursday. Presented by The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ and Va’a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health, University of Otago, the lecture celebrated the 30 Year Anniversary of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ.
Special guests at the event included Gabi Hollows, Founding Director and Patron of The Foundation, and guest speaker Dr John Szetu, The Foundation’s Medical Director. Also present were Foundation Board Chair Craig Fisher and Trustee Martin Enright.
“I am honoured to be here at the Inaugural Fred Hollows’ Lecture, celebrating 30 Years of The Foundation. I am immensely proud of what The Foundation has achieved in those 30 Years, including restoring sight to over three million people globally. I have no doubt that Fred would be full of pride as well, were he here to celebrate with us today,” says Gabi Hollows.
The evening began with a warm Cook Islands welcome and greetings from Deputy-Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Helen Nicholson, Associate Dean Pacific, Division of Health Sciences, Dr Xaviour Walker and Associate Dean Pacific, Medicine, Dr Letava Tafuna’i.
After the lecture, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between The Foundation and the Division of Health Sciences, continuing their collaboration to improve eye care for the people of the Pacific. Through the MOU, the two institutions will seek to promote the exchange of information and materials, and the exchange of academic and administrative staff and students.
Dr Walker says the Lecture and the MOU will allow The Foundation and the University to continue to develop a sustainable, ongoing collaboration, aimed at improving the health of Pacific people.
“The Lecture is a regular visible connection for students and staff to recognise the work done by The Fred Hollows Foundation, and the MOU gives us a platform to continue working with medical students to further develop the workforce and provide future opportunities for research.”
Dr Szetu has been delivering eye care in the Pacific since 1988 and has worked with The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, helping to restore sight for 21 years. With the support of The Foundation, Dr Szetu established the Pacific Eye Institute in 2006 and the Pacific Eye Care Society to represent eye care professionals working in the Pacific region.
Dr Szetu spoke about his journey of caring for eyes in the Pacific and the causes of blindness such as cataracts, diabetes and lack of equitable access to eye care.
Dr Szetu says, “Having been with The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ since it began delivering programmes in the Pacific, I have had the privilege of seeing first-hand the organisation grow to where it is today – performing over one million eye care consultations and training over 320 eye care specialists throughout the Pacific, and ultimately significantly improving the quality of eye care in the region.
“With that in mind, it is an honour to be here today to participate in this Inaugural Fred Hollows lecture, celebrating 30 Years of restoring sight, and also to see the MOU signed between The Foundation and the Division of Health Sciences, which will help to see more Pacific people entering into eye care.”