TOBA TEK SINGH- A team consisting of Australian High Commission officials and others reviewed the progress of the Pakistan-Australia Prevention of Avoidable Blindness (PAPAB) project underway in Toba Tek Singh.

They were flanked by Faisalabad Allied Hospital’s Ophthalmology Department head Dr Sultan Khan, members of Australia Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) and the Comprehensive Eye Care Cell from Lahore.

A Health Department official said that the team observed training of lady health workers (LHW) at Rajana Rural Health Centre and an eye care camp at a Basic Health Unit in Toba. He added that Australian government is partnering with FHF in providing AUS-Dollars 4.5 million to support delivery of the prevention of avoidable blindness project in all four provinces in Pakistan.

He said the project focuses on strengthening government units to facilitate better eye health by developing eye care plans, strengthening health system and controlling diseases. The project supports detection, referral and treatment of six eye diseases including Retinopathy of Prematurity, Diabetic Retinopathy, Cataract, Refractive errors, Glaucoma and Corneal opacities. He further stated that it also aimed at strengthening government coordination on eye screening and provision of spectacles at local schools and communities, establishment of four glaucoma units, capacity building of LHW and Supervisors on eye care, human resource development of eye health professionals and integrating eye health into Health Management Information Systems of local eye care facilities.

The official further said that Australia and FHF were doing efforts to reduce avoidable blindness in Pakistan since 1998. PAPAB is the fifth project which the Australian government has supported and it is focused on consolidating the previous work of the FHF.

Over the term of this partnership, Australia, FHF and the Pakistan government have achieved significant advances in eye healthcare, including improvement to 53 district eye units and the introduction of pediatric and diabetes sub-specialties in major public hospitals of Pakistan, he said.