Aboriginal #Eye Health NEWS : NACCHO and @Vision2020 Welcomes @GregHuntMP and @KenWyattMP major investment to provide approx. 18,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with easier access to affordable prescription glasses

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have three times the rate of vision impairment and blindness as compared to non-Indigenous Australians.”

“This is totally unacceptable, especially when almost two-thirds of impaired eyesight can be corrected by prescription glasses.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the investment would allow Vision 2020 Australia to work with state and territory governments to streamline, standardise and improve their schemes that provide subsidised glasses to First Nations people

Photo above NACCHO File : Brien Holden Vision Institute with Edwina at Danila Dilba ACCHO Darwin

“To help achieve equity of access to subsidised glasses, Vision 2020 will work with governments to ensure their schemes align with eye health principles developed by Optometry Australia and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

“These principles have been supported by Aboriginal Health Forums conducted across the nation.”

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM

Under some State and Territory schemes at the moment, only a third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needing glasses are actually receiving them.

We need to do what we can to provide cost-certainty and affordable access to prescription spectacles for our people.”

Dr Dawn Casey, Acting Deputy CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Chair of the Vision 2020 Australia policy committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health also welcomed the investment

Read over 40 Aboriginal Eye Health articles published by NACCHO over past 6 years 

Part 1 Program Puts Better Vision for First Nations People in Sight

The Turnbull Government has committed $2 million to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with easier access to affordable prescription glasses.

Welcomes @GregHuntMP and @KenWyattMP major investment to provide approx. 18,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with easier access to affordable prescription glasses.

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM said introducing a nationally consistent system to simplify and ensure better access to affordable glasses would significantly improve people’s vision and overall quality of life.

“Not only does poor vision adversely affect a person’s general wellbeing, it can be a significant barrier to education and employment, and can restrict a person’s mobility and social interaction,” said Minister Wyatt.

“The cost of prescription glasses often deters Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from visiting an optometrist to have their sight checked.”

“This can also delay detection of other serious vision-threatening conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma.”

A trial to improve the provision of prescription glasses in the Kimberley and Pilbara areas of Western Australia yielded positive outcomes, including improved patient medication compliance and greater independence.

Vision 2020 Australia was established in 2000 and has an experienced board including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.

The Turnbull Government’s 2018-19 Budget included an additional $3 million to extend First Nations eye health activities, on top of an existing $31.3 million commitment to eye health activities

Part 2 New investment in spectacles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people welcomed by Vision 2020 Australia

Vision 2020 Australia welcomes the Australian Government investment of $2 million to increase access to subsidised spectacles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The one-off funds have been allocated to Vision 2020 Australia to work with the Australian Government to encourage State and Territory Governments to enhance the existing arrangements for subsidising the cost of spectacles.

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Judith Abbott said: “Our members have been actively advocating for this investment that will help make spectacles more affordable for up to 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across our country.”

“Around 60 per cent of blindness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is due to issues that can be corrected with glasses, so this is a very positive step. We look forward to working with the government as part of Vision 2020 Australia’s ongoing commitment with our members to reduce blindness and vision loss.”

Minister for Indigenous Health the Hon. Ken Wyatt said: “While subsidised spectacle schemes exist in all Australian states and territories, the existing schemes vary and in some cases, have limited impact in overcoming barriers to access.

This new investment is being provided to encourage State and Territory Governments to work with Vision 2020 Australia to establish a nationally consistent approach to spectacle subsidies.”

“We want to remove affordability barriers so Aboriginal people can get glasses when they need them, regardless of where they live

NACCHO and @Vision2020Aus Aboriginal Eye Health Deadly Good News : #BecauseofHerWeCan #WeCan18 ! – #Indigenous women in eye health @Walgett_AMS @BADACBallarat @AHCSA_ @IEHU_UniMelb

 ” To mark NAIDOC Week 2018 and this year’s theme ‘Because of Her, We Can!’, Vision 2020 Australia is celebrating the roles and achievements of some of the incredible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women working in the eye health sector.  

These women perform a range of roles across a number of areas in the sector, but they are all proud of their cultures, passionate about their work and driven to help improve health outcomes in Indigenous communities and beyond.”

Originally published HERE VISION 2020

Read over 40 Aboriginal Eye Health Articles published over the past 9 years

 ” Vision 2020 Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee Chair, Dr Dawn Casey (COO, NACCHO), said it will be hard to improve Aboriginal health when funding bodies and Aboriginal service providers are “not on the same page”.

Dr Casey spoke at the Close the Gap for Vision by 2020: Striving Together National Conference in March about the longevity of ACCHOs delivering clinically effective health outcomes for over 40 years: “Our mob trust us”. While medical professionals have a role to play in closing the gap, sustainable approaches must be embedded in ACCHOs ”

Read full report here Aboriginal-led solutions key to closing the vision gap

1.Robyn Bradley, Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer – Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital

Robyn’s father’s ancestors emigrated from England and Scotland in the early 1800s and her mother’s family are from the Dhauwurd Wurrung peoples more commonly known as Gunditjmara in Western Victoria.

“I am proud to belong to this beautiful and ancient land. If you listen quietly you can still hear the dreamtime stories of our elders rustling through the bush, whispered over the dessert country and swirling around our brilliant coastlines. I am proud I come from this perfectly crafted tapestry of ancient first nation peoples, emigrants, convicts, pioneers, bushrangers and first fleeters.

“I am also proud to share my passion for my culture and beliefs as an Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer at the Eye and Ear. I get to meet with community and act as a steward to help them receive the highest possible level of care – care that considers what is culturally appropriate and meets their unique needs.”
Robyn Bradley, Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital

2. Aboriginal women of the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia

Since its inception, the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) has looked to the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women as trailblazers and advocates for better health outcomes for their communities.

Currently there are seven Aboriginal Women working in various roles within the AHCSA Secretariat. The women’s kinship ties extend all over the country and all are united in their efforts to contribute to improving health for their communities, acting as advocates for increased and improved access to Hospital and Health Services and creating opportunities for their communities, particularly the next generation.

Image (L-R): Sarah Betts (Sexual Health Coordinator), Ngara Keeler (Tackling Indigenous Smoking Programme Coordinator), Jessica Koncz (Student Services Officer), Jenaya Hall, (Tackling Indigenous Smoking Project Officer), Amanda Mitchell (Deputy CEO), Debra Stead (Senior Finance Officer),
Absent from photo, Hannah Keain, (Junior Project Officer)
7 Aboriginal women who work at the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia

3.Keearny Maher, Occupational Therapist – VisAbility

Keearny Maher is a Wiradjuri woman who specialises in vision impairment at VisAbility WA. Her cultural ties originate in Narrandera, NSW through her mother and Wiradjuri woman Ann-Maree Bloomfield.

“One rewarding aspect of my role is helping people find independence again after vision loss, particularly in the simple activities we all take for granted, like making a hot cuppa.”

Keearny’s role takes her all over WA, with some of her career highlights extending overseas, including volunteer work as an occupational therapist in Ukraine and India with children with varying disabilities.

Occupational Therapist at VisAbility, Keearny Maher

Rosamond Gilden, Research Assistant – Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne and member of Orthoptics Australia

Upon completing a Masters in Orthoptics, Rosamond worked in the private and public sector. To pursue her interest in research, Rosamond joined the Centre for Eye Research Australia as Clinical Coordinator of the National Eye Health Survey. It was during this time she became aware of the poor eye health outcomes for Indigenous Australians and wanted to make a difference.
In 2016, Rosamond commenced work with Indigenous Eye Health and is part of the Roadmap team whose goal is to Close the Gap for Vision by 2020.  Rosamond has used her experiences as a clinician to inform the current work that she is now undertaking and is grateful for the opportunity she has each day to contribute to a sector that has a sincere interest in improving eye health outcomes for Aboriginal people.
Rosamond Gilden

4. Jenny Hunt, Eye Health Worker – Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service in partnership with Brien Holden Vision Institute

Jenny is a proud Gamilaraay woman who has been providing eye care services in partnership with the Brien Holden Vision Institute Aboriginal Vision Program for the past 10 years to the Walgett community.

“I find the eye program rewarding when I see the relief and smile on my people’s faces when they first put their glasses on. I feel proud. Also, if they do not attend their optometrist or ophthalmologist appointments, I will chase them up and take them there myself because I know how important it is for them.
“I have excellent communication with the outreach location workers and they do a wonderful job getting the patients in for our clinics. I travel to Narrabri, Collarenebri, Goodooga, Pilliga and Lightning Ridge for clinics as well as the one we run in Walgett. Without the help from these workers, there would be no eye clinics.”
Jenny Hunt standing in front of a sign for Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service

5.Faye Clarke, Diabetes Educator/Care Co-ordinator – Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative in partnership with Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne

Faye is a Gunditjmara, Wotjobaluk and Ngarrindjeri woman who works with Aboriginal communities in the Ballarat and wider Grampians region of Victoria to help promote eye health and help those living with diabetes. Faye is passionate about working in Indigenous eye health and was excited to work with the IEH team on the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision.

“Vision is such an essential part of our life and when it is threatened it makes all the difference to someone’s quality of life. My dual role as a Care Co-ordinator means I can take on roles in both education and co-ordinating their path in the health care system.

“I am passionate about Indigenous eye health because of the work I do but also because of the clients I work with who are affected by threats to their vision.”

Faye Clarke from Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative

6.Simone Kenmore, Manager of South Australian Trachoma Elimination Program – Country Health South Australia

Simone is a Yankunytjatjara woman from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in remote South Australia. Simone works with Indigenous communities and health professionals across Australia to inform a model of best practice to work towards the elimination of trachoma in South Australia, and is passionate about improving health outcomes for Indigenous communities.
“I have always been passionate about working in programs that contribute to improved outcomes for Indigenous communities. My work in trachoma is driven by the fact that it is a preventable disease. By sharing what we know about eye health, building the capacity of our communities and working in partnership across health, education and housing we can eliminate trachoma and prevent blindness for future generations.”
(Image and content provided by Indigenous Eye Health at University of Melbourne)
Simone Kenmore

7.Emma Robertson, ITC Care Coordinator – Karadi Aboriginal Corporation

Emma is a Palawa woman working in a health promotion role at Karadi Aboriginal Corporation in Tasmania, encouraging people to come in for regular eye checks. Emma believes this year’s NAIDOC Week is a great chance to honour the women who have influenced her and her work in Indigenous health.

“I thinks this year’s theme is one of the best yet. I get to honour the women who were before my time that set the path that now enables me to work in my areas of passion around Indigenous health. It also makes me feel proud as an Aboriginal mum and the role I am playing in setting what I hope is a great role model for my daughters – that with hard work, determination and good people around you, you can make a profound difference in the lives of others.”

(Image and content provided by Indigenous Eye Health at University of Melbourne)
Emma Robertson from Karadi Aboriginal Corporation

NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health #NRW2017 : Download @aihw First National Report on Indigenous Eye Health Measures

“The three main causes of vision impairment in adults were uncorrected refractive error, cataract and diabetic retinopathy.

On the positive side, the report indicates that more Indigenous Australians are accessing eye health services provided through specific service programs.

The report finds that in 2014-15 more Indigenous Australians received an eye examination than in the previous twelve months; that the gap in accessing cataract surgery compared to non-Indigenous Australians is narrowing; and the rate of blindness for Indigenous Australians has decreased from 1.9 per cent in 2008 to 0.3 per cent in 2016.

While the report shows improvements are being made in Closing the Gap in Indigenous eye health, more needs to be done.”

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt

Download the  First National Report on Indigenous Eye Health Measures AIHW Indigenous Eye Health

Over 40 NACCHO articles about Indigenous Eye Health

Eye diseases and vision problems are common long-term health conditions experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, today welcomed the release of a report that looks at the effectiveness of national eye health programs.

Launching the Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2016 report, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Minister Wyatt said that one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported one or more long-term eye conditions in 2016.

“This report is important because from here we can build an evidence base for monitoring changes in Indigenous eye health, and identify service delivery gaps at the regional level,” Minister Wyatt said.

Summary

Key findings in the report reveal that:

  • This first national report on the Indigenous eye health measures compiles data from a range of sources and presents findings at the national, state and regional levels.
  • In 2016 the prevalence of bilateral vision impairment for Indigenous Australians aged 40 and over was 10.5% and the prevalence of bilateral blindness was 0.3% (both affecting an estimated 18,300 Indigenous Australians aged 40 and over).
  • The 3 leading causes of vision impairment for older Indigenous adults were refractive error (63%), cataract (20%) and diabetic retinopathy (5.5%).
  • Repeated untreated trachoma infections are a cause of vision loss in some remote Indigenous communities, but the prevalence of active trachoma in children aged 5–9 in at-risk communities fell from 14% in 2009 to 4.6% in 2015.
  • The age-standardised proportion of Indigenous Australians who had had an eye examination by an eye-care professional in the preceding 12 months increased from 13% in 2005–06 to 15% in 2014–15.
  • There were 6,404 hospitalisations (4.5 per 1,000) of Indigenous Australians for eye procedures in the two year period 2013—15.
  • Between 2005–07 and 2013–15 the age-standardised Indigenous hospitalisation rate for cataract surgery increased by over 40% from 4,918 to 7,052 per 1,000,000.
  • In 2014–15, the median waiting time for elective cataract surgery was 142 days for Indigenous Australians, with 3.4% of Indigenous Australians who waited for more than 1 year for cataract surgery.
  • Hospitalisation rates for cataract surgery were higher for Indigenous Australians in Remote and Very remote areas combined, while waiting times were longest in Inner regional areas.
  • The number of occasions of service for Indigenous patients under the Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS) almost tripled between 2009–10 and 2014–15 rising from 6,975 to 18,890.

Comparison with non-Indigenous Australians

  • Indigenous Australians suffered from vision impairment or blindness at 3 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians, based on age-standardised rates.
  • In 2014–15, a lower proportion of Indigenous Australians (15%) had had an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist in the preceding 12 months compared with non-Indigenous Australians (20%), based on age-standardised rates.
  • Indigenous Australians had a lower age-standardised rate of hospitalisations for eye diseases compared with non-Indigenous Australians (10 and 13 per 1,000, respectively), but 3 times the rate for injuries to the eye (1.3 and 0.4 per 1,000, respectively).
  • Indigenous Australians also had a lower age-standardised rate of hospitalisations for cataract surgery than non-Indigenous Australians (7,044 and 8,415 per 1,000,000, respectively).
  • In 2014–15, the median waiting time in days for those who had elective cataract surgery was longer for Indigenous Australians (142) than for non-Indigenous Australians (84).

“We now have a very valuable source of data we can use to improve eye health through better detection, management and treatment of eye disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” Minister Wyatt said.

The Indigenous Eye Health Measures report is the first national report on the Indigenous eye health measures.

It brings together comprehensive data from a range of sources and presents this information at the national, state and regional level.

The Australian Government is investing around $72 million over 2013-14 to 2020-21 to improve eye health for Indigenous Australians.

More information about the Indigenous Eye Health Measures 2016 report is available on the AIHW website at http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health : A game changer for #eye care for #diabetes

eyes

” Diabetes is also a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Indigenous people and causes 12% of vision loss cases and 9% of blindness cases — rates that are 14 times higher than those in the non-Indigenous population.4

There are many reasons why Indigenous people with diabetes do not receive the appropriate care they need; the Roadmap to close the gap for vision lists 35 individual problems that need to be dealt with to provide this care.7,8

Professor Hugh Taylor

As published MJA : Non-mydriatic photography may be the key to accessible eye care for references

The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision has played a part in prompting actions that contribute to this improvement. The Roadmap outlines a whole of system approach to improving Indigenous eye health, and achieving equity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal eye health outcomes.

There is however still work to be done on Closing the Gap for Vision. For example, half of Indigenous participants with diabetes had not had the recommended retinal examination.

NACCHO has been involved with the Roadmap from its inception, and had a long relationship with Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, and with RANZCO. We’re pleased with the great work and good progress being made.”

 Ms Patricia Turner, Chief Executive Officer, of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) launching  The 2016 Annual Update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision November 2016

Download a copy cover

2016-annualupdate

Every patient with diabetes is at risk of losing vision, but up to 98% of the cases of severe vision loss could be prevented.1 At any given time, about a third of patients with diabetes will have diabetic retinopathy, and one in ten will experience sight-threatening retinopathy requiring prompt treatment.2

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines recommend an eye examination every 2 years for non-Indigenous Australians with diabetes, and annual examinations for Indigenous people with diabetes.3

However, approximately only half of non-Indigenous patients with diabetes and only one in five of Indigenous Australians with diabetes receive the recommended eye examinations.4

Although the prevalence rates of diabetes have increased dramatically in Australia over recent years, they have increased even more so among Indigenous people. In the 1970s, the prevalence of diabetes among Indigenous people was one-tenth that of non-Indigenous people,5 and now it is about five times higher.6

For patients with diabetes, maintaining good vision is an essential goal. Not only is good vision important in its own right but, without it, patients cannot manage their diabetes, look after medications, check blood sugars, check their feet and attend clinic appointments unassisted, let alone manage home dialysis.

Diabetes is also a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Indigenous people and causes 12% of vision loss cases and 9% of blindness cases — rates that are 14 times higher than those in the non-Indigenous population.

4 There are many reasons why Indigenous people with diabetes do not receive the appropriate care they need; the Roadmap to close the gap for vision lists 35 individual problems that need to be dealt with to provide this care.7,8

Consistent with the Roadmap is an important announcement in the May 2016 federal Budget of the new Medicare items for non-mydriatic photography (listed in November 2016), which will enable easy and affordable eye screening within the primary care setting for patients with diabetes.9 This is a very important development and a game changer for both non-Indigenous and Indigenous people with diabetes.

The new item numbers cover a test of visual acuity and a retinal photograph.9 Patients with abnormalities in the eye will need to be referred to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. Patients with a normal eye examination will be reviewed again according to the NHMRC recommendations.

Non-mydriatic cameras are now readily available, and most are at least semi-automatic, making them easier to use by clinic staff. Moreover, non-mydriatic cameras do not require the use of dilating drops, which facilitates patient assessment.

The patient does not need to wait and there is no discomfort of blurry vision for several hours as the drops wear off. Testing visual acuity and taking a retinal photograph in the primary care setting means that a separate specialist appointment is not required, and the eye examination can be easily incorporated into the care plan.

If the vision is found to be impaired or a photograph cannot be obtained, then the patient requires a comprehensive eye examination and should be referred to a specialist, as in the case of visible signs of retinopathy.

This method provides real benefits to patients because the eye examination becomes an integral part of their normal care, avoiding in many cases the need for an additional eye examination and allowing timely treatment, if required. There is a real advantage for the clinic as well, since they can be sure that their patients are receiving the necessary eye examinations.

Moreover, there are also advantages for optometrists and ophthalmologists, because people with diabetes who particularly need their care — those with retinopathy and vision loss — will be referred, rather than them seeing people for widespread screening.

Of course, it is expected that the overall number of people with diabetes being screened will increase significantly, and that changes in the eye will be found much earlier and severe retinopathy will be avoided.

There is also a tangible advantage to the community through cost savings in the identification and care of retinopathy, which will prevent unnecessary blindness and vision loss.10

The impact will be particularly noted among Indigenous people with diabetes, who represent three-quarters of the Indigenous adults who need an eye examination each year.7,

8 In addition to diabetic retinopathy, people with diabetes have an increased risk of cataract and may also need a change in glasses.

To provide adequate eye care to people with diabetes, a referral process for the treatment of retinopathy needs to be established, along with a process of specialist referral for appropriate further investigation and treatment — including post-operative follow-up when required — for those who need cataract surgery or refraction. Those who do not have diabetes will also use these pathways.

The focus on eye care for Indigenous people with diabetes will therefore deal with over 70% of the eye care needs in the community, and it will also assist with providing care for Indigenous patients who do not have diabetes. Again, it is a real game changer.

There are a number of resources to assist with the uptake and promotion of these new services. There are online modules aimed at helping clinic staff learn more about the eye care required for people with diabetes,11,12 for conducting eye examinations and for grading diabetic retinopathy.

In addition, culturally appropriate health promotion material has been specifically developed with close community involvement, which aims to alert and inform patients and the community about the need for regular eye examinations.13

It is said that “what is not measured is not done” and that “what is not monitored cannot be managed”. It is very important that appropriate monitoring and evaluation processes to track performance are put in place at the clinic, regional, jurisdictional and national levels. The diabetic eye screening rate should be a key performance indicator for primary care and diabetes clinics.

The new Medicare item number for non-mydriatic diabetic retinopathy screening is a major advance in closing the gap for vision.

NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health Survey : Fred Hollows Foundation’s Indigenous Australia Program (IAP)

fred-1

The Fred Hollows Foundation’s Indigenous Australia Program (IAP) is conducting a survey of our partners.

As a valued partner of the IAP , we are keen to understand your views and use these to help us improve.

Completing the survey will take approximately 10 – 15 minutes. The survey is confidential and responses will not be attributed to any individual or organisation.

fred-2

The survey is open from Wednesday the 14th of November  to Wednesday the 30th of November 2016.

GO TO SURVEY

The survey consists of four short sections:

  • Section 1 asks you about your relationship with the IAP
  • Section 2 focuses on the IAP’s guiding principles
  • Section 3 asks you about our partnership approach
  • Section 4 focuses on our organisation, processes and people

Your input will be collated in a way that guarantees the anonymity of your responses. The results will help inform the IAP’s continuous improvement process. Depending on the feedback we receive, we expect to make specific program improvements and/or guide specific advocacy messages. Key survey results and how the IAP plans to address them will be disseminated to partners via email early next year.

Please contact myself jbarton@hollows.org  or Alison Rogers arogers@hollows.org if you have any questions.

Completing this survey can helps us make a positive impact on how the IAP works to increase access to eye health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

GO TO SURVEY

Your participation is greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards,

Jaki Adams-Barton

Manager, Indigenous Australia Program | The Fred Hollows Foundation

fred-1

NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health : Annual update -The Roadmap to Indigenous eye health is closing the gap

pt-vision

 ” Eye health and good vision is an important issue for everyone, but particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It accounts for a significant proportion of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. I’m pleased to report that progress is being made.

The National Eye Health Survey, released on World Sight Day this year, also tells an important story. Rates of blindness amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have improved from 6 times to 3 times as much compared with non-Indigenous people.

And the prevalence of active trachoma among children in at-risk communities fell from 21% in 2008 to 4.6% in 2015.

The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision has played a part in prompting actions that contribute to this improvement. The Roadmap outlines a whole of system approach to improving Indigenous eye health, and achieving equity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal eye health outcomes.

There is however still work to be done on Closing the Gap for Vision. For example, half of Indigenous participants with diabetes had not had the recommended retinal examination.

NACCHO has been involved with the Roadmap from its inception, and had a long relationship with Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, and with RANZCO. We’re pleased with the great work and good progress being made.”

 Ms Patricia Turner, Chief Executive Officer, of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) launching  The 2016 Annual Update on the Implementation of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision

Pat Turner pictured above with Mark Daniell President, RANZCO,  and Prof Hugh Taylor at the launch.

vision-crowd

The gap in blindness in Indigenous communities has been halved since 2008 through collective implementation of the sector-supported Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, according to a report launched yesterday

Speaking at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) Annual Scientific Congress in Melbourne, Laureate Professor Hugh R Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Chair of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne said that progress is being made on every single recommendation in the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision, which was developed by Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne.

cover

Download copy of the Report 2016-annualupdate

Eleven of the 42 recommendations have now been fully implemented, with almost two thirds of all activities completed.

“In terms of regional implementation of the Roadmap, there has been positive engagement. We are working with 18 regions across the country covering almost half of the nation’s Indigenous population,” Professor Taylor said.

“We can report that at the beginning of this project, we found rates of blindness and impaired vision were up to six times higher than for non-Indigenous populations. This has now been halved,” he said.

“While the rate stands at three times more than the national average, this is still a very encouraging improvement. With on-going national support, we are determined to reach eye health parity with the rest of the Australian population.”

In his role as Chair of Indigenous Eye Health, Professor Taylor is also working with Indigenous leaders, partners and members of the community in a mission to eliminate trachoma in Australia.

“We are the only developed nation with endemic disease and only in Indigenous communities. Many Indigenous communities are now trachoma free and we can turn our attention to other main causes of blindness and poor vision in Indigenous communities: cataract, refractive error and diabetes,” Professor Taylor said.

Since 2008 rates of trachoma in children in outback communities has fallen from 21% to 4.6%. “We are really seeing some striking progress but we still need to focus on the hot spots.”

“The 2016 Roadmap update shows we are making great progress and are on track to close the gap for Indigenous vision completely in the next four years.”

 

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NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health : CERA researchers win $750,000 to help end endemic eye disease in remote and regional communities

cera

94% of blindness or vision loss in Indigenous Australians is preventable or treatable and Vision at Home will bring testing to areas with poor access and benefit groups with great potential for sight-saving interventions, including children, the elderly and Indigenous Australians

The largest challenge to preventable eye disease is the lack of access to eye care services in primary healthcare settings, particularly in regional, remote and Indigenous communities. “

Professor Mingguang He, Principal Investigator at CERA

And congratulations to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation winning $250,000 as a finalist . ALNF aims to revolutionise the teaching and learning of literacy in indigenous communities across Australia.

picture2

Researchers from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) have won $750,000 after competing in today’s finals of the 2016 Google Impact Challenge held in Sydney.

The prize money will go towards research for the creation of Vision at Home, an evidence-based software algorithm that provides a method for patients to test their eyesight anywhere there is access to a webcam and the Internet.

“I am thrilled our proposal received such a positive response from the competition judges and the general public,” Professor Mingguang He, Principal Investigator at CERA and Professor of Ophthalmic Epidemiology at the University of Melbourne said.

“Our project is a simple hand-held solution for those who live far away from eye specialists and has the potential to help millions of people not only in Australia but worldwide.

“I also want to thank everyone who voted for our project and Google for their extraordinary generosity,” he said. CERA’s Project Lead and PhD candidate, Dr William Yan who presented the project to the Google judges and received the award said he was ‘absolutely stoked’ to win. “It is just sinking in,” he said immediately after hearing the results.

“Now the goal is to create the solution and help those who can’t easily get to treatment,” Dr Yan said.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates over 600,000 Australians live with vision impairment, a number projected to increase to 1 million by 2024.

CERA plans to first trial the technology with post-operative patients from the Eye and Ear Hospital, with elderly and disability patients across Victoria, and in schools across indigenous community

How you can share  health messages stories about Aboriginal Community Controlled Health issues ?

Closing this week October 28

  • newspaper-promoEditorial OpportunitiesWe are now looking to all our members, programs and sector stakeholders for advertising, compelling articles, eye-catching images and commentary for inclusion in our next edition.Maximum 600 words (word file only) with image

More info and Advertising rate card

or contact nacchonews@naccho.org.au

Or call Colin Cowell 0401 331 251

NACCHO Aboriginal Eye Health : Why is trachoma blinding Aboriginal children when mainstream Australia eliminated it 100 years ago?

the-eyes

 


 ” Many people don’t know this, but Indigenous Australian children are born with much better eyesight than non-Indigenous children.

Yet, at the population level, Indigenous people at the age of 40 have rates of vision loss three times that of non-Indigenous Australians. Rates of blindness are six times higher among Indigenous adults.

The prevalence of vision problems in Indigenous people is a result of cataracts, diabetic eye disease and a disease non-Indigenous children don’t get – trachoma. In fact, trachoma disappeared from mainstream Australia more than 100 years ago with improved hygiene facilities, water infrastructure and living conditions.

Yet, in some areas, 4% of Indigenous children aged from five to nine years old have an active trachoma infection. In the Northern Territory, that rate is 5%, which is considered an endemic level.

From The Conversation

This article is the first in our three-part series on the blinding, deafening and sometimes deadly conditions in Indigenous Australian children that have little to no impact on their non-Indigenous counterparts. The next two articles will look at rheumatic heart fever and disease; and otitis media.

What is trachoma?

We used to call trachoma sandy blight (the eyes feel gritty, as if full of sand). It is the world’s leading cause of infectious blindness.

Trachoma is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, which creates swelling under the inner eyelid leading to scarring. The scars cause the eyelashes to turn inward and scratch the eye, which is intensely painful and made worse by blinking.

Eventually, if left untreated, all the scratching from the lashes will result in the cornea – the transparent layer at the front of the eye – going cloudy and the person having irreversible blindness.

Trachoma leads to eyelashes turning inwards and scratching the eye, leading to blindness. Community Eye Health/Flickr, CC BY

Trachoma easily spreads from one child to another through infected eye and nose secretions.

Unlike other infectious diseases, a single episode of trachoma is often not uncomfortable or noticed as being any different from just a runny nose. Nor is a single episode such a problem for the individual child.

The main issue is that children keep getting reinfected, which keeps the inflammation present. A child may have between 30 and 40 episodes of reinfection during their childhood and around 160 to 180 infections until the resultant scarring causes blindness.

Each episode of infection may last a few months, but repeated reinfection turns into a continuing infection and disease. The longer the inflammation goes on, the worse the discomfort and more severe the scarring. And the more severe the scarring the greater the risk of blindness.

Where does trachoma exist?

Australia remains the only high-income country to still have trachoma. Although it doesn’t exist in mainstream Australia, trachoma persists in remote Aboriginal communities that still lack safe washing facilities and have notoriously poor and chronically overcrowded housing.

Young children with constant eye and nose secretions in remote endemic communities sometimes go unnoticed and washing a child’s face whenever it’s dirty (with eye and nose secretions) is not common.

But Australia is making progress. In 2009, the Australian government committed to eliminating trachoma by 2020. At that time, disease rates ranged between 15% and 20%. Data from 2015 show a massive drop, with the national average for children in endemic areas at 4.6%.

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Of equal importance is the dramatic reduction in the number of communities with trachoma. More than 150 of the 200 or so at-risk communities no longer have trachoma and there are only a small number with high rates. These hotpots are mainly in and around Central Australia.

Globally, trachoma affects people in remote and rural communities with poor personal and community hygiene. In 2016, an estimated 200 million people are at risk of trachoma in 42 countries – mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, but also in countries such as Afghanistan, India, Brazil, Colombia and some Pacific Island nations.

The World Health Organisation has set the goal of eliminating blinding trachoma by 2020. Countries such as Morocco, Ghana, Iran, Mexico, Nepal, China and Cambodia have eliminated trachoma over the last ten years.


The Conversation, CC BY-ND

What are the treatments?

The World Health Organisation developed the SAFE strategy to eliminate trachoma. This includes: surgery to correct the inward eye lashes (S); antibiotics to reduce levels of infection (A); promotion of facial cleanliness to stop transmission (F); and environmental improvements in water and sanitation (E).

In Australia, the antibiotic azithromycin is given every six to 12 months to all household members of someone with trachoma, or everybody in affected communities.

This brings down the level of infection, but without stopping the possibility of transmission, trachoma will bounce back. This is why keeping every child’s face clean is so important. The essential and sustainable strategy of maintaining trachoma elimination comes down to having clean faces, which goes with access to safe and functional bathrooms and washing facilities.

Milpa the Trachoma Goanna mascot features in the materials and is involved in community activities. Author provided

Improved hygiene will also help reduce other common and very serious infections in remote Indigenous communities.

There are currently effective health promotion activities in Australia such as “Clean Faces, Strong Eyes”. Bodies such as the Indigenous Eye Health group at the University of Melbourne continue to work closely with community groups to build on this work.

Milpa the Trachoma Goanna mascot features in educational materials and is involved in community activities, such as the development of music videos, roadshows and football clinics.

NACCHO Media Release: Vision roadmap closes the gap on Aboriginal sight

                                                                                                                                                              

Cropped Roadmap launch Taylor Bryce Cooke

L. to R. Prof Hugh Taylor (Chair of Indigenous Eye Health Unit), Dame Quentin Bryce and Mr Matthew Cooke (NACCHO Chair)

A progress report on Aboriginal eye health shows that sustained efforts can make a huge difference to the health of Aboriginal people and continued focus is needed to finish the job, said the peak Aboriginal health body.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson Matthew Cooke launched the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision at the 46th RANZCO 2014 Annual Scientific Congress with the Hon. Quentin Bryce, former Governor General, and welcomed the significant progress of a 10 per cent reduction in childhood trachoma since 2009.

“Today we can celebrate the fact that more Aboriginal kids have improved vision thanks to coordinated measures to reduce trachoma,” Mr Cooke said.

“This is not just great news for our children’s health but will have flow on effects to their education and ultimately future employment opportunities.”

Mr Cooke said whilst success had been made in the area of trachoma, a stronger focus is needed to reduce the high prevalence of diabetes in Aboriginal people, a major source of blindness, and up to four times more common in Aboriginal people than among other Australians. For example, recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data (2012-13) shows that 39% of Aboriginal people aged over 55 years suffer from diabetes.

“The gains being celebrated today can be attributed to the ongoing support of all levels of government, partnering with the NGO sector and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

“Maintaining and expanding on the programs that will work will ensure we get even closer to the goal of eliminating avoidable blindness in all Aboriginal people.”

Mr Cooke said vision loss was the most commonly reported long term health condition for Aboriginal Australians, representing a substantial 11% of the health gap.

“We know what to do to improve the sight of Aboriginal people. We know how to prescribe glasses, perform cataract surgery and detect and treat diabetic eye disease. To keep up the success such as outlined in the Roadmap today we need to look to measures which reduce waiting times for hospital surgery for diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and related surgery.

“There also needs to be a common approach to a subsidised spectacle scheme introduced for Aboriginal people across all states and territories; work has already begun to make this a reality.

“The Roadmap also identifies significant issues once a patient moves beyond primary care onto secondary and tertiary levels of care. It is essential that primary care, optometry, ophthalmology and hospitals are effectively linked and work well together at a regional level.

“Our 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services are key to helping identify people requiring eye care and delivering treatments in collaboration with the broader eye health sector. It is also great to see young Aboriginal leaders in eye health coming through such as the first Aboriginal Registrar Ophthalmologist, Kristopher Rallah-Baker and Optometrist Shannon Peckham.

Mr Cooke acknowledged Melbourne University’s Indigenous Eye Health Unit’s sustained efforts to continue to work closely with NACCHO and member services to close the gap in the vision for Aboriginal people. Mr Cooke further acknowledged other key agencies such as the Fred Hollows Foundation, Optometry Australia and RANZCO.