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Strategic Alliance For Preventing Blindness

The Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind (RNZFB) and the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Blindness (NZSPB) are now working together to reduce the incidence of preventable blindness in this country.

According to President for the NZSPB Gillian Clover treating preventable vision loss in children, finding ways to treat diabetes which can lead to blindness and getting more resources for low vision clinics are high priority areas.

"With the added weight of the Foundation's voice we will be able to draw attention to these critical issues," she says.

Chief Executive for the Foundation, Jane Holden reinforces Gillian Clover's view by pointing out that with the Foundation's growing membership a strategy of treating preventable blindness is

"This is especially so in the wake of the rising incidence of diabetes and glaucoma," she says.
The lack of availability of low vision clinics to treat people with serious sight impairment will also be addressed by the alliance.

"At present there's a whole group of people who are falling through the cracks. They are not eligible for membership of the Foundation because their sight is too good but they need support and treatment because their sight is so poor. Low vision is an area of high demand and low resource," says Jane

Through its recently released Strategic Plan the Foundation has a commitment to blindness prevention and awareness as well as providing services to people who are blind or sight impaired.

"The Foundation faces an alarming growth in membership as the population ages. By sharing resources with the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Blindness we hope to reduce the impact of this
predicted growth," says Jane Holden.

"The alliance also ensures that we meet another of the aims of our Strategic Plan which is to form relationships with relevant agencies."

Earlier in the year, as part of its strategic planning process the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind established a goal of 'ensuring the incidence of blindness is minimised'.

"This goal also commits the Foundation to an advocacy role and to raising awareness of blindness and sight impairment issues," says Jane Holden. "The NZ Society for the Prevention of Blindness (NZSPB) also has this goal. It seems logical to join forces and share, where possible, resources and expertise."

Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Foundation, Gordon Sanderson is very pleased that the alliance has been agreed upon. He sees, as does Gillian Clover, an opportunity for each organisation to achieve shared goals of prevention and blindness awareness raising.

The alliance is likely to involve an interchange of Foundation staff and NZSPB Directors. NZSPB which has a membership made up of community members, ophthalmologists and optometrists will provide expert knowledge essential to the Foundation's work, with the Foundation providing awareness raising administrative support, a national framework and the 'independence' required by the NZSPB.

While maintaining a stance of political neutrality the alliance will lobby government, Health Funding Authorities and other relevant groups in order to improve access to treatment, to continue research
activities and identify new treatments for preventable blindness.

"If, by coming together we prevent a number of people losing their sight to preventable causes then the alliance will have proven its worth," says Jane Holden.

Details for the alliance will be considered over the next few months and a comprehensive strategy developed.

"This is an exciting opportunity that maximises the strengths of two 'like-thinking' organisations while minimising the costs for both of reaching our goals," says Jane Holden.


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