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The Fred Hollows Foundation has announced it is entering into a $3 million partnership with the University of Melbourne to carry out an innovative program to reduce diabetes related blindness and combat chronic disease among Indigenous Australians.
The three year program, TEAMSnet, will use Internet and mobile technologies, such as iPads and mobile phones, to provide accurate, low cost eye exams and coordinated diabetes and heart care to Indigenous people in remote parts of the Northern Territory and Central Australia.
The Fred Hollows Foundation's CEO, Brian Doolan, said investing in a diabetes telehealth program would provide huge benefits for Aboriginal Australians.
‘Coordinated management and care of chronic conditions such as diabetes can reduce severe vision loss by more than 95%,' he said.
‘One of the biggest challenges we face in combating diabetes vision loss is that some people living in remote Australia don't have access to regular eye exams or health care, which is why TEAMSnet will play a vital role in ensuring we get to these remote patients before it is too late.'
TEAMSnet will be led by Associate Professor Sven-Erik Bursell, from the University of Melbourne's Eastern Hill Academic Centre, who has ran a successful diabetes telehealth trial in the United States (US) and Canada.
‘Results of the program conducted in the US revealed this approach costs less and saves significantly more sight than traditional eye care services.'
TEAMSnet will be trialled at four remote Indigenous sites in the Northern Territory and Central Australia. If the trial is successful, the service could be utilised across other remote communities.
Source: The Fred Hollows Foundation