From an idea hatched around Fred Hollows' dining room table, the Foundation bearing his name has grown into one of Australia’s largest international development organisations, a growth that's charted in a book that was launched by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
In Fred’s Footsteps is a remarkable record of the legacy of a remarkable man, Ms Gillard told book launch at Parliament House.
"In effect, it’s a survey of how Fred’s spirit and memory have lived on long after cancer took his physical presence from us," she said.
The Foundation's become one of Australia’s great non-for-profit institutions of international development, Ms Gillard added.
"The record of the past 20 years is simply extraordinary," she said.
In that time, more than 220,000 Australians have made a donation to support the work Fred Hollows started.
During this time, The Foundation has never lost sight of Fred's dream of eliminating avoidable blindness across the globe, and improving the health of Indigenous Australians.
In the past five years alone, The Foundation and its partners have carried out nearly a million sight restoring operations and treatments – approximately one every 2.6 minutes.
Since it was founded in 1992, The Fred Hollows Foundation’s achievements include:
- Introducing modern cataract surgery in the developing world, despite strong opposition
- Establishing hi-tech intraocular lens (IOL) factories in Eritrea and Nepal in the mid-1990s
- Helping to produce more than five million IOLs for export to 75 countries
- Training tens of thousands of clinical and support staff, including ophthalmologists, nurses and community workers
- Building or renovating more than 100 health facilities
- Reducing the cost of cataract operations to just $25 in some developing countries.
The Foundation’s CEO Brian Doolan said the achievements show the organisation is delivering on Fred's promise.
"Fred's goal, our goal is that no one – regardless of who they are, where they live or what they can afford – should go needlessly blind. That is the goal we are committed to achieving," Mr Doolan said.
"Fred believed local people were best placed to deliver health care to their communities.
"His vision was to see eye doctors across the globe equipped with the skills and tools to eliminate avoidable blindness and improve lives.
"Fred had big dreams and The Fred Hollows Foundation is turning those dreams into reality. And what a great privilege that is."
Also speaking at the launch opposition leader Tony Abbott, said Fred Hollows was a truly remarkable human being.
"May so many more of us follow in Fred’s footsteps and continue to honour this great Australian who was truly a man in full," he said.
The Foundation is inspired by the work of the late Fred Hollows, an internationally acclaimed eye surgeon and dedicated humanitarian who championed the right of all people to high quality and affordable eye care and good health.