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Date posted: 23 July 2013
Community based workers play a critical role in reducing trachoma rates in outback regions of Australia. In 2012, the Fred Hollows Foundation funded the employment and training of 14 Aboriginal community based workers to support the Australian Government'sTrachoma elimination program in nine remote communities across the Northern Territory.
Thelma is a mother of two who is helping eliminate trachoma in the community of Ntaria (Hermannsburg) as a Foundation-supported Aboriginal community based worker. She plays a critical role in educating her community about trachoma and encouraging good eye health habits. Thelma connects people in the Ntaria community with eye nurses and other health workers who can provide trachoma treatment. She is able to educate people on eye health in a culturally appropriate way. Strategies include having eye health materials approved by community Elders and translated into their Arrernte language to ensure local understandings of trachoma and how to prevent the disease.
The knowledge Thelma shares is leading to behavioural change in her community, which is the key to preventing trachoma reinfection in the future. Reaching children is a priority. During a recent mass trachoma treatment and screening at the local school, Thelma worked with nurses to explain the purpose of trachoma antibiotics and teach positive eye health messages.
'I teach the kids to wash their hands and nose and keep their faces clean so they have good eyes and don't go blind when they get older,' says Thelma. 'I like to help the kids and the young ones so when they grow up they can help their own children,' Thelma says.
Source: Fred Hollows Foundation