Story: Creative and intellectual expatriates

Fred Hollows

In this 1992 documentary Fred Hollows outlines the thinking behind his humanitarian work in developing countries to restore vision to people suffering eye disease such as cataracts. 

Born in Dunedin in 1929 and schooled in Palmerston North, Hollows studied first for a degree in divinity (theology) at the University of Otago, then for a science and arts degree at Victoria University of Wellington, and finally for a medical degree at Otago. There he developed an interest in eye surgery and, following graduation, worked in opthalmology positions at several New Zealand hospitals. After gaining a diploma from the Moorfields Eye Hospital Institute of Opthalmology in England, and then a fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, Hollows headed to Australia in 1965 to become head of the Opthalmology Department at the University of New South Wales. He supervised the teaching there and at the Prince of Wales and Prince Henry hospitals until 1992. 

During this time Hollows became involved in setting up medical services to improve the dire state of Aboriginal health. Because they often lived in poverty, many indigenous Australians were suffering from diseases including blinding trachoma. Visits overseas from 1985 as a consultant to the World Health Organisation inspired him to work to reduce the cost of eye treatment in developing countries. One of his initiatives was to establish a laboratory in Nepal to produce low cost intraocular lenses, needed for cataract surgery. 

In 1992, a year before his death, Fred and his wife, Gabi, set up the Fred Hollows Foundation, which works in over 40 countries to end avoidable blindness and improve health in indigenous communities.

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How to cite this page:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Creative and intellectual expatriates - Expatriation to other countries', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/interactive/44357/fred-hollows (accessed 6 April 2020)

Story by Nancy Swarbrick, published 22 Oct 2014