Eye health services will improve for around 3 million Cambodians living alongside one of the ancient wonders of the world, Angkor Wat - with the commencement of construction of the Siem Reap Regional Eye Hospital.
The new eye hospital will serve as a base to provide the highest quality eye care services to people living in a region famous for its ancient temples, in north eastern Cambodia
The hospital is being constructed with funding from the Australian Government under the Avoidable Blindness Initiative (ABI) - and with additional funding contributed by the people of Australia through donations to The Fred Hollows Foundation.
At a ceremony attended by the Cambodian Minister for Health, Professor Mom Bun Heng and Australian Ambassador, Margaret Adamson, The Foundation's CEO Brian Doolan said that the construction of the hospital is just one part of a commitment to providing better eye health services in the region.
"It is not just the building of this hospital that will make the difference," Mr Doolan said. "The real work of fixing eyes is the responsibility of the staff who will work here, the doctors, nurses, anaesthetists and support staff."
"The Foundation's commitment is to further the training of support staff who will be working here."
Mr Doolan said that Fred Hollows would be extremely proud that The Foundation's work is reaching such a large number of Cambodians who currently have very limited eye health care.
"To Fred, all people were equal. To Fred, all people deserved the highest quality eye care regardless of whether they were a beggar, a farmer, or a member of a royal family."
Mr Doolan also acknowledged the Australian Government's contribution to tackling avoidable blindness in the region through the ABI.
"I congratulate Her Excellency Margaret Adamson on the Australian Government's decision to support the construction of this eye hospital and I express our gratitude to the representative of the Australian Aid Agency AusAID, which administers the funding for the Avoidable Blindness Initiative."
"It is an initiative which really is a world leader in the struggle to overcome avoidable blindness," he said.
The three-storey eye hospital is expected to be completed by December this year.