Working to reduce avoidable blindness in our region
23 August, 2012
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Mrs Gabi Hollows at the launch of a new book marking the 20th anniversary of the Fred Hollows Foundation, Parliament House, 23 August 2012. Photo: Penny Bradfield
Din, a fourteen year old boy from Cambodia, was born with cataracts. His deteriorating vision meant that he could not travel to school by himself, he could no longer play with friends or take part in community life. Following sight-restoring surgery, conducted by the Fred Hollows Foundation, Din returned to school and became a top student in his local community, able to assist other friends with their homework and exercises. Photo: Fred Hollows Foundation
In the world today, there is an estimated 285 million people whose vision is impaired, of whom 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision. Nine out of 10 of these cases are occurring in developing countries despite almost 80 per cent of them being entirely preventable or treatable. People with vision impairment are among the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
Both the causes and effects of avoidable blindness in the developing world can be directly related to poverty, including malnutrition, limited access to health, education, water and sanitation. Women and children are disproportionally affected in poorer societies, and it is estimated that 90 per cent of children with a disability do not attend school.
Australia is helping lead the world to reduce avoidable blindness
Australia has been a leader in the field of avoidable blindness—committing more than $80 million to blindness prevention work since 2007.
In 2008, Australia launched the Avoidable Blindness Initiative (ABI) which has supported a number of eye-health and blindness prevention programs, including partnerships with organisations such as the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and the World Health Organization in the Western Pacific Region.
Australia also works with eye-care organisations such as the Fred Hollows Foundation and eight other members of the Vision 2020 Australia Global Consortium in developing countries to build capacity and provide services to address blindness and visual impairment.
Since 2008, the ABI’s prevention programs have:
- provided more than 400,000 vision screenings
- completed more than 27,000 sight-restoring surgeries
- dispensed more than 15,000 spectacles
- trained more than 4,000 eye-health workers.
20th anniversary of the Fred Hollows Foundation
Prime Minister Julia Gillard today launched ‘In Fred’s Footsteps—20 years of restoring sight’— a new book marking the 20th anniversary of the Fred Hollows Foundation that charts the achievements of the Foundation since its establishment in 1992.
The Australian aid program has been partnering with the Fred Hollows Foundation since 1997 to eradicate avoidable blindness for the poorest of the poor.
Australia’s work on avoidable blindness
Last Reviewed: 23 August, 2012