Wife of the late Fred Hollows, Ms Gabi Hollows, has paid tribute to leading ophthalmologist Dr Pararajasegaram, affectionately known as Dr Para, a friend and colleague since 1977.
Dr Para was the former president of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and in 1999 launched Vision 2020, a global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness. He died recently in Chennai, India.
“Dr Para was a very dear friend long before The Fred Hollows Foundation even existed,” Gabi Hollows said.
She said in the 1970s he travelled with the Hollows family for a year to remote communities around Australia as part of the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program.
“Thanks to Dr Para, what we did on the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program became the blueprint for so much of the work we carry out in other countries.”
Fred and Gabi Hollows met Dr Para’s wife Ruby, also an ophthalmologist, who joined them for six months of the trip too.
Gabi Hollows said Dr Para was a fount of knowledge. “He not only opened doors for us to help people internationally, he also made eye health a global issue.”
She added: “After that trip around Australia, he asked Fred to be a consultant to the World Health Organization’s prevention of blindness program and later invited us to Nepal for the first time. This became the launch pad to our work in Asia.”
Both families bonded, and in 2016 Dr Para’s niece Sumithra travelled with the Fred Hollows Foundation to Bourke, NSW, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program.
“The world of ophthalmology is one big family and we have lost a precious soul. The Fred Hollows Foundation sends our thoughts to Dr Para’s daughters and extended family,” Gabi Hollows said.