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Tackling avoidable blindness in the Pacific

Tackling avoidable blindness in the Pacific has seen great progress thanks to the support from The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust to The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust works with partners throughout the Commonwealth to eliminate avoidable blindness and has been supporting the diabetes eye disease programme of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ since 2015.

Working with local Ministries of Health, the Trust-supported programme was rolled out in six Commonwealth countries throughout the Pacific – Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga – and has seen great success.

Diabetes eye disease is a complication of diabetes and is the leading cause of blindness globally in working-age adults. With the Pacific being home to nine out of 10 countries with the highest incidence of diabetes in the world, it is crucial that effective diabetes and diabetes eye disease services are provided to prevent vision loss.

The goal of the Trust-supported programme was to help prevent diabetes eye disease amongst people living in the Pacific. Since 2015 successes include:
• 42,908 patients across all six Pacific countries have been screened for diabetes eye disease.
• 7,237 patients have received sight-saving laser treatments to prevent permanent blindness from diabetes.
• 448 locally led diabetes eye disease outreaches across the Pacific have made screening and treatment services available to over 13,600 patients from remote areas and outer islands.
• 1,236 primary health clinicians and 854 community health workers have been trained in diabetes eye care awareness and primary eye care.
Andrew Bell, Executive Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, says, “We would like to express our sincere gratitude to The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust for their incredible support of our diabetes eye disease programme. As you can see from these outstanding achievements, we have made great progress in tackling diabetes eye disease in some of the remotest parts of the Pacific and we simply would not have been able to reach as many patients and health workers without the support of The Trust.”

Although The Foundation will continue to run the diabetes eye disease programme throughout the Pacific, a celebration was held last night in Fiji to mark the end of The Trust’s contribution in the region and celebrate the amazing achievements that have been realised over the last four years with The Trust’s support.

The event was hosted by Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in Suva, Fiji.

“It has been a true privilege to work alongside The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ to together seek to ensure that people living in some of the most remote communities of the Commonwealth, at risk of diabetes eye disease, can access the quality sight-saving screening and treatment they need. The Trust has had as its mission to leave a lasting legacy, owned by the Commonwealth, in honour of Her Majesty The Queen. The positive impact this programme has had on thousands of lives across the Pacific, and will continue to have for years to come, is precisely that legacy – and one that could not make us more proud.”

Andrew Bell, Executive Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, and Dr Astrid Bonfield, Chief Executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust


Notes to Editors
The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ
The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ carries on the work of a legendary New Zealander, the late Professor Fred Hollows. Fred was an internationally acclaimed eye surgeon and social justice activist who championed the right of all people to high quality and affordable eye care.
The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ works in the Pacific where four out of five people who are blind don’t need to be; their condition is preventable or treatable. We restore sight to the needlessly blind and vision impaired, train local eye health specialists to provide eye care services in their own communities and work to strengthen local health systems to achieve access to quality eye
The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust
The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is a charitable foundation established in 2012 by Commonwealth Heads of Government to mark and celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s 60-year contribution to the Commonwealth at the time of her Diamond Jubilee. The Trust has received donations from governments, corporate partners, trusts, foundations, community groups and individuals from across the Commonwealth, and its programmes work in alliance towards ending avoidable blindness and to empower a new generation of young leaders.
In January 2020, the Trust will have successfully completed its time-limited programmes and will cease operating as a grant-making organisation. It will have achieved a significant, sustainable reduction in avoidable blindness across the Commonwealth, saving millions from losing their sight, and created and developed a cadre of remarkable young leaders as a legacy in honour of Her Majesty The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth.


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