11 Oct 2012

NZ government urged to help re-energise region's fight against blindness

2:44 pm on 11 October 2012

The New Zealand government has been urged to step up its leadership efforts to help the region end avoidable blindness by 2020.

The Fred Hollows Foundation has marked World Sight Day by calling for New Zealand to help ensure Pacific Island countries make the goal a priority.

It is estimated there are more than 80,000 people in the region who are blind due to problems like diabetes and infection.

The Executive Director of the Foundation's New Zealand arm Andrew Bell says he applauds New Zealand's efforts so far but a final push is needed to ensure the World Health Organisation's Vision 2020 goal is met.

"And the New Zealand government can make a huge impact simply by explaining the difference it makes to eliminate avoidable blindness and often we refer to it as the low hanging fruit. It's one of those easy interventions that governments can make that has a dramatic impact upon the well being of their population."

The Executive Director of the Fred Hollows Foundation in New Zealand, Andrew Bell