The Vanuatu National Eye Centre, which was opened earlier this year following a $2.5 million upgrade and expansion by The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, was visited this week by representatives from The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – both significant funders of the new eye centre.
Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, visited the new eye centre and commended the remarkable progress achieved in Vanuatu to tackle avoidable blindness. The Trust was established in 2012 to work towards ending avoidable blindness and empowering a new generation of young leaders across the Commonwealth. Through this, it has significantly contributed to Pacific programmes managed by The Foundation to reduce diabetes eye disease, the fastest growing cause of blindness globally.
Also visiting the new eye centre were members of the New Zealand delegation to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu for the 2019 Pacific Mission.
“It is truly fantastic to be able to share the success of the upgraded eye centre with some of our significant funders,” says Andrew Bell, Executive Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, who is part of the delegation.
“The new eye centre, combined with the recent return of Foundation-trained eye doctor – Dr Johnson Kasso - will go a long way to increasing Vanuatu’s eye surgery capacity from 200 to 800 per year, meeting the target surgical rate to eliminate avoidable blindness in the country as estimated by the World Health Organization,” says Mr Bell. “It will also help to provide better treatment for the escalating number of diabetes eye disease patients in Vanuatu.”