The impact of Nepal’s worst natural disaster in 80 years is still being felt one year on, according to CEO of The Fred Hollows Foundation Brian Doolan.
Ahead of the first anniversary of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 8,000 and demolished half a million homes, Mr Doolan returned to some of the worst affected areas of Nepal to see first-hand the achievements in restoring the crucial work of the eye surgery outreach camps.
Mr Doolan said that after the earthquake, nine eye surgery outreach camps had to be cancelled as staff from Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology (The Foundation’s partner in Nepal) focused on emergency relief operations, creating a backlog of 3,000 people in need of surgery.
“Nepal is the heartland of The Fred Hollows Foundation and the place where Fred met pioneering eye surgeon Dr Sanduk Ruit
. Despite the devastation and the direct impact on both the hospital and the outreach camps, the speed of recovery is impressive and teams have been back on the ground for the past six months performing eye operations and restoring sight again,” Mr Doolan said.
“The hardship that the Nepalese people have endured is intense, it’s a great relief to know that life-changing surgeries are being performed again, which is only possible thanks to the ongoing generosity of Australian donors. The Foundation’s emergency relief appeal raised more than $100,000 for families affected by the earthquake.”
“In a matter of months thousands of people can now see again as over 400,000 operations and sight saving treatments have been performed and administered by the team in Nepal.”
Legendary Nepalese eye surgeon and good friend of Fred Hollows, Dr Ruit said despite the loss of loved ones, homes and communities, the Nepalese people remain calm.
“Nepalese people are the most resilient and patient people on earth, that’s why everyone likes them. They have suffered the biggest earthquake, but remain content whilst trying to re-build their lives,” said Dr Ruit.
Fred Hollows left a lasting legacy that is still felt in Australian and around the world – his Foundation has restored sight to more than 2 million people. The people of Nepal in particular were close to his heart.
Fiona Nearn, Senior Media Adviser, The Fred Hollows Foundation: 02 8741 1983.