2022 and the year ahead – The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

As we start another year, we speak to professionals across the eye health industry to understand the challenges, opportunities, trends and priorities for the year ahead.

Dr Audrey Aumua, CEO, The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ:

Dr Audrey Aumua, CEO The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

Like the Pacific Ocean, 2021 was a year of ebbs and flows. We started the year full steam ahead and made great progress. But just as we started to catch up on the backlog of treatments resulting from the 2020 pandemic restrictions, COVID-19 took hold across the Pacific again. Regional clinics in Fiji and Papua New Guinea could perform emergency treatments only, and outreach trips were put on hold. Others, like Tonga, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Samoa and Solomon Islands managed to limit the COVID-19 spread and continue saving the sight of those in desperate need.

Staff worked tirelessly from home to prepare for the eventual lifting of restrictions and were able to resume sight-saving outreaches and reopen some clinics in the final months of the year.

Despite the challenges, thanks to the unwavering commitment from our medical and support teams and our generous community of donors we achieved over:

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47,312

eye health consultations

2,412

sight-restoring eye surgeries

31

eye doctors & nurses in training

 

We’re ready for 2022

This year marks 30 years since Professor Fred and Gabi Hollows established the Fred Hollows Foundation to eradicate avoidable blindness and vision impairment. We would never have gotten this far without the support of our partners and donors. As we mark this milestone and reflect on the achievements so far, we also face our biggest challenge yet. So, in the spirit of Fred we are rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck in.

The global impact of COVID-19 has unequivocally shown that the health of a nation’s population is central to every part of its social and economic fabric, eye care is no exception. Vision impairment interferes with daily activities and the possibilities for employment are severely limited. Those who are vision impaired rely on other members of the family or community to care for them, which in turn impacts on that person’s ability to go to school, work or participate in the community. Globally, blindness costs US$411 billion annually in lost income. If you add direct and indirect economic implications, the economic impact is far greater. The impact on individuals and communities is so much more.

After two years of meeting the challenge of COVID-19 we are match fit, we’re agile and we’re more determined than ever. We will continue to increase the number of people who have access to quality eye care services by growing and supporting the local eye care workforce. We have utilised technology to ensure that ophthalmology students can continue to study from home despite travel restrictions and lockdowns. We will move closer towards our goal of access to eye care to all through outreaches, patient consultations and sight-restoring surgeries. And we will continue to partner with Pacific governments and ministries to address challenges, such as child health and non-communicable diseases, which continue regardless of COVID-19. Two years of ebbs and flows means we know it won’t be easy. We know plans will need to be adapted to meet the ever-changing situation and that we will meet unforeseen challenges. But, with the ongoing support of our community of partners such as Specsavers and ordinary Kiwis who, like Fred, believe everybody should have access to eye care, we are ready.

If you’d like to help The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ eliminate avoidable blindness and vision impairment in the Pacific Region you can find out more at hollows.org.nz