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The Fred Hollows Foundation has worked in the Philippines since 2014.
In a population of around 100 million, avoidable blindness affects roughly 600,000 Filipino people. Cataracts are the greatest problem, affecting over 1% of the population, or 1.1 million people. There are currently over 330,000 people requiring urgent cataract surgery, and new cases are overwhelming the current health system.
Those suffering live mostly in impoverished areas, with lack of access to even the most basic eye care. Sadly, most eye care services are in the capital, Manila, where the wealthy can afford private ophthalmologists’ fees.
Working alongside the Department of Health in the Philippines, The Fred Hollows Foundation has developed an effective model for ensuring all provinces in the country have access to high quality and affordable eye care. This model involves using the national health insurance program, PhilHealth, equipping provincial eye centres with trained health professionals and equipment, and educating local communities in how to access eye health services.
The Fred Hollows Foundation is working to reduce avoidable blindness in marginalised communities in the Philippines. This will be done through setting up eye centres in regional and under-serviced provinces of the country, educating communities about the eye care services available, and increasing the uptake of eye health services to tackle the surgical backlog.
Overall in 2019, the project is looking to screen 5,400 community members, including school children, and perform 180 sight restoring cataract surgeries.
In order to build the capacity of the local health system, The Foundation is investing heavily in the training of local health professionals, community health workers, community leaders, teachers, and school health staff in eye care. In fact, in 2019, this project aims to train over 3,200 of these individuals in regional provinces.
The $20,000 donated from The Footprints Network will allow The Fred Hollows Foundation to achieve the following outputs as part of the broader project in 2019:
The Fred Hollows Foundation always works in partnership with like-minded organisations and health providers to ensure the greatest reach and biggest impact of our sight restoring work. Where possible, we work with governments to better implement eye health systems and train local doctors, nurses and health workers to help their communities.
In the Philippines, this project is working closely with the government, the Department of Health, and the country’s health insurance program, PhilHealth. Further, working with local communities is key to this project’s success. Training of community leaders, community health leaders, and training health professionals to train others, ensures the sustainability of this approach, as well as strengthening the local health system.