By Joe Boughton-Dent, Communications and Community Education Manager, The Fred Hollows Foundation
The figure has dropped from 1.8 per cent of the population in the 1990s, to 0.9 per cent in the latest survey. That means approximately 1.5 million people have had their sight saved thanks to AusAID, The Foundation, and local partners, including the Ministry of Health.
Following in the footsteps of eye surgeon Fred Hollows, The Foundation has focused on training, building up a local health force to tackle the problem of avoidable blindness.
Since 1997 over 230 eye doctors have received training in modern cataract surgery, backed up by a workforce that includes 8,500 medical support staff who have also undergone training.
Despite these terrific results, avoidable blindness remains a challenge in Pakistan. More than two million Pakistanis are blind in both eyes. Conditions such as cataract rob people of their sight, limiting their independence and making it impossible to earn an
income. Yet cataract can be overcome with a relatively simple operation, that can cost as little as $25.
By training local surgeons to carry out such procedures, and ensuring they have the facilities and equipment to do their job, The Fred Hollows Foundation and AusAID are working to end avoidable blindness in Pakistan.
The video below illustrates the sight saving work taking place in Pakistan, headed up by The Foundation’s Dr Rubina Gillani. It also illustrates what can happen when you restore someone’s sight – in this case, Razia, a mother who had not seen the face of her daughter for many years.
You can also watch the video on Youtube.