It goes without saying that 2017 has been a busy year. As it wraps up, so too does a year of celebrations for one of our busiest members, the Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand. In July I was privileged to be a guest at FHFNZ’ Reflections workshop, which drew together key personnel from right across the Pacific. It was a significant event – not only a reflection on the past twelve months, but a reflection on the preceding 25 years.
For many years I’ve worked in collaboration with my colleagues at FHFNZ, so I’m familiar with the excellent work they undertake in the Pacific Islands. For example, I know that the development of the Pacific Eye Institute (PEI) in Suva has revolutionised training in the region; I know that the Regional Eye Centre in Honiara, Solomon Islands, is a model of environmentally friendly, sustainable development. And I have seen first-hand the excellent work undertaken at Madang Eye Clinic. Yet, even with this assumed knowledge, the numbers are staggeringly impressive:
- 50,000 eye surgeries have been performed in the Pacific
- 7 eye care centres have been established in the Pacific
- 257 eye doctors and nurses trained in the Pacific
Taken on their own, these are enviable figures, but consider for a moment the difficulty of the region – the diversity of peoples and cultures, the formidable terrain and the frustratingly unreliable transport and communications systems. In the South Pacific Islands a small population is spread across a vast expanse of ocean – nowhere is it harder to make a dollar go further than in this part of the world.
The stats above talk to HR and infrastructure. No organisation has had a greater impact in the region than Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand. As 2017 closes and their 25th Birthday year comes to an end, they’re already looking ahead to the next challenges; Diabetic Retinopathy is looming as a serious issue, deserving of particular focus in the Pacific Islands. Whilst at times it can seem the work is never ending, the achievements thus far are deserving of particular congratulations.
Please enjoy this small photo montage that highlights some of the change… and if you get a chance over the festive season, don’t forget to raise a glass and say “Happy Birthday Fred NZ!”