The face of the late, great philanthropist and ophthalmologist Fred Hollows could end up on Australia’s fiver. This is the aim of The Fred Hollows Foundation. New Zealand-born Fred Hollows is well known for improving access to sight-saving cataract surgery. He helped many people in Australia and other countries.
Early in the 1970s, Hollows worked in the rural outback of Australia. He became especially concerned with the high number of Aborigines who had eye problems. This motivated him to help establish medical services for Aboriginal people throughout Australia. Hollows himself spent three years visiting Aboriginal communities to provide eye care and carry out a survey of eye defects. More than 460 communities were visited, and 62,000 Aboriginal People were examined. This led to 27,000 people treated and 1,000 operations carried out.
Hollows visited Nepal, Eritrea and Vietnam 1987-91. The result was programs to train local technicians to perform eye surgery. Following this laboratories were established in Eritrea and Nepal to manufacture the intraocular lenses needed for cataract surgery. These were produced at cost, approximately A$10 at the time. It has been estimated that more than one million people in the world can see today because of initiatives instigated by Hollows and his Foundation.
Gabi Hollows, Fred Hollows’ widow, launched the campaign “Get Fred on the Fiver” in January this year. Five dollars has been a catch line for Fred Hollows – ‘give Fred five’ and ‘Fivers for Fred’ as $5 was the price of a sight-saving intraocular lens. The Foundation has established a website for Australians to sign a petition campaigning to change the current image on the five dollar note.