Great progress in Indigenous eye heath

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Today at the NACCHO Members Conference in Terrigal, Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO and Professor Hugh Taylor of the University of Melbourne will speak about progress in eye health.

The 2015 Annual Update on the Implementation of The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision will be launched and new diabetes eye care resources called “Check Today, See Tomorrow” is to be publicised to members.

“The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision has 42 recommendations. There is significant progress being made in every one of those areas, seven of which are now implemented”, said Prof Taylor.

“In terms of tackling trachoma, there are now 150 communities in the endemic areas where the prevalence of trachoma is zero”, Prof Taylor said. “The number of remaining hot spots has been reduced to one-third.

Prof Taylor says that by working together with the community controlled health sector and other key stakeholders, and with continued and full government support at all levels, the gap for Indigenous vision can be closed within the next four years.

“The next steps are to ensure every person who has diabetes gets an eye examination at least once a year, to develop regional eye care services and to eliminate trachoma from the remaining hot spots.

“With concerted commitment and resources we could close the gap for vision in the next four years, it is really achievable, it is the low hanging fruit and it will close 11 per cent of the overall Indigenous Australian health gap.

Yesterday, Minister Fiona Nash launched new resources for Aboriginal communities called ‘Check Today, See Tomorrow’. The resources were developed with Ballarat and District and Budja Budja Aboriginal Co-operatives from Grampians in Victoria, Looma community in the Kimberley WA and IUIH and Deception Bay community in QLD. The University of Melbourne also worked with Indigenous Hip Hop Projects and Gilimbaa creative agencies to put together the powerful set of key messages, posters, information and videos that showcase community art, music, country and highlight the need for annual eye checks for those with diabetes.

“We’re delighted to launch the health promotion material on eye care for people with diabetes that has been developed with close collaboration and input by communities,” Prof Taylor added. “It is good timing given Australia’s National Diabetes Strategy was launched last week.”

“An eye check at least every year will help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes take early action against eye damage such as diabetic retinopathy, which can cause vision loss,” Prof Taylor said. “All Aboriginal people with diabetes need to have an eye check every year and by ensuring these regular examinations, we can prevent up to 98 per cent of the blindness caused by diabetes.

 

Visit the booth at NACCHO Members’ Conference or visit the following website links for further information:

Progress in Indigenous eye care www.iehu.unimelb.edu.au/roadmap/annual_updates

Check Today, See Tomorrow Diabetes Eye Care Resources www.iehu.unimelb.edu.au/diabetes-eye-care/resources

 

Media contact Jane Gardner, Media Advisor at the University of Melbourne on

0411 758 984 / 03 8344 0181, or email gardner.j@unimelb.edu.au

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