ISLAMABAD – Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Margaret Adamson, inaugurated a new hostel at the King Edward Medical University in Lahore, Pakistan.

The hostel will motivate female students from remote areas to pursue education in a safe and secure environment. It will house 250 ophthalmic students, mostly women from far-flung areas of Pakistan. The presence of on-campus safe accommodation will offer encouragement and motivation to female students to study ophthalmology (a branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases of the eye and visual system).

The Australian Government and the Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) jointly funded the hostel under the Pakistan Australia Prevention of Avoidable Blindness (PAPAB) project at the cost of PKR 75 million while the land for the hostel building has been provided by the Government of Punjab.

Australian High Commissioner Ms. Margaret Adamson, King Edward Medical University (KEMU) Principal Prof Dr Asad Aslam Khan and Mayo Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr. Amjad Shahzad inaugurated the new hostel at the KEMU’s College of Ophthalmology and Allied Vision Sciences (COAVS), Mayo Hospital.

At the inauguration ceremony, Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson said, “The availability of secure accommodation is an important step to encourage women, particularly those from remote areas of Pakistan, to build their careers through higher education.”

“The Australian Government’s continued support to the work of the Fred Hollows Foundation in Pakistan reflects our strong belief that providing quality care for those affected by various forms of blindness is key to improving their economic and social opportunities” Ms Adamson added.

Australian High Commissioner Ms. Margaret Adamson, inaugurates the new women hostel for King Edward Medical University students

Australian High Commissioner Ms. Margaret Adamson, inaugurates the new women hostel for King Edward Medical University students

Dr. Asad Aslam Khan informed that the hostel was a long desire of the students as approximately 66 percent of the students are female and most of the students belong to remote areas of Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir and few African countries. Earlier, students had to travel on public and private transport to reach the college which led to late arrivals and feeling of insecurity among students.

Addressing the participants, Her Excellency, Margaret Adamson, shared that Australian government’s continued support to the work of the FHF in Pakistan reflects the strong belief that providing quality care for those affected by various forms of blindness is key to improving their economic and social opportunities. She was satisfied that the partnership and Australian government’s support in Pakistan has really made a difference to the country.

Punjab Medical Education Secretary Najam Ahmed Shah visited the College of Ophthalmology and Allied Vision Sciences, its classes, the newly inaugurated hostel and clinical departments and appreciated the standard delivery of eye care services.

The College of Ophthalmology & Allied Vision Sciences (COAVS) at Kind Edward Medical University Lahore is a premier training institute providing quality training to Allied Ophthalmic Personnel in the country. More than 600 ophthalmic personnel have already graduated from COAVS and are serving in public and private sector hospitals in Pakistan, playing a pivotal role in eliminating avoidable blindness.

FHF Pakistan Country Manager Farooq Awan also expressed his views on the occasion and presented a video in which students residing in hostel expressed their views to reflect the need of hostel accommodation.

The Pakistan Australia Prevention of Avoidable Blindness (PAPAB) project, funded by the Australian Government, is the fifth consecutive project by The Fred Hollows Foundation in Pakistan since 1998.