The Fred Hollows Foundation now works in more than 25 countries and has restored sight to over two million people worldwide. This couldn’t have been achieved without the overwhelming support of the Australian public. We’re as determined now as ever to end avoidable blindness. 4 out of 5 people who are blind don't need to be – there remains so much to do.
The Foundation has been working in Pakistan since 1998. Since then, we have worked to build local capacity through strong and wide-ranging partnerships to help the local eye health system become capable of looking after the country’s own eye care needs. We have also worked to develop and support national and provincial coordination systems for effective eye care planning and implementation.
Since 1998 The Foundation has helped develop 50 comprehensive eye units by training health workers, providing equipment/medical instruments, refurbishing hospitals, supporting systems and running community awareness campaigns.
The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) has been the main funder of The Foundation’s work in Pakistan.
AusAID funded The Foundation’s first national program to address cataract, “Microsurgical Training Program for Cataract’’, from 1998 to 2001 across the country. In this process, more than 120 eye units were developed for the delivery of cataract services.
From 2002 to 2013 AusAID provided two rounds of funding for “Pakistan Australia District Eye Care Project’’ (PADEC). This was to strengthen the district-based eye care systems through the provision of human resource development, equipment, systems development and advocacy campaigns.
The Australian Government is also supporting our work with the Government of Pakistan on a five-year project called the “Pakistan-Australia Sub-specialty Eye Care’’ (PASEC) Project, launched in 2009. This project has resulted in the establishment of childhood and diabetes-related blindness sub-specialty services in existing tertiary eye units at both district and provincial levels across the country, and developed referral mechanisms and community awareness to increase demand for these services. The project has supported the provision of new equipment, training for ophthalmic teams in relevant sub-specialties, infrastructure upgrades and the development of new quality control systems.
The Pakistan program also involves building the capacity of "Comprehensive Eye Care" (CEC) Cells, through training and support in each province. The CEC Cells are able to support and guide the district community eye care programs. The setting up of these CEC Cells has enabled effective planning, implementation and monitoring of outcomes over time by the partners themselves. A major role for these Cells is supporting district headquarter hospitals by treating common eye diseases and promoting awareness and confidence in district-level ophthalmic services.
Through this kind of support The Foundation has helped progress the National Programme for Prevention of Blindness in Pakistan. The National Programme provided the major pieces of equipment to eye units at the tertiary, secondary and primary level across Pakistan, while the provincial governments provide the required human resources, space and running costs, and The Foundation has been filling the gaps in infrastructure, equipment and human resource development.
In Pakistan, due to low literacy, many fears and myths surround eye health treatment. In addition to this, women often won’t leave home to seek medical help for religious or cultural reasons. To address this, The Foundation has piloted the concept of female counsellors to encourage female patients to seek eye care services for themselves and their children.
The Foundation is currently working across all four provinces in Pakistan.