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Date posted: 2 June 2011
The significant eye health and vision problems experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be eliminated to bring us one step closer to closing the gap in Indigenous health, according to two new reports from the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Indigenous Studies.
The Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, launched the two reports this week prepared by the University of Melbourne's Indigenous Eye Health Unit: Projected needs for eye care services for Indigenous Australians and A critical history of Indigenous eye health policy-making.
The reports prepared collaboratively by Jilpia Jones and Graeme Henderson, show that the high rates of blindness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be reversed by increasing eye care resources, adopting a national and coordinated approach to policy, and delivering services in partnership with the community control sector.
Professor Hugh Taylor AC said the findings are a vital step in the nation's quest to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health. 'Across the whole country, by adding just eight full-time equivalent ophthalmologists and approximately 40-60 full-time equivalent optometrists to work with Indigenous communities we will meet the current eye health needs. Nationally there are 250,000 cataract operations performed each year. It would take only an additional 3,000 operations for Indigenous Australians to eliminate cataract blindness in these communities' said Professor Taylor.
University of Melbourne
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