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Nash announces more funding for Indigenous eye health

MEDIA RELEASE

Eye disease trachoma is another step closer to extinction among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples thanks to new funding announced by Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash.

Minister Nash said the additional $6.63 million over four financial years will improve eye care coordination and and help reduce trachoma - a bacterial infection of the eye linked to poor hygiene and which can result in blindness - in indigenous communities.

The new funding brings the total investment in Indigenous eye health to more than $42 million.

"This funding will help us reduce even further the number of Indigenous peoples - often children - who contract trachoma," Minister Nash said.

"This funding will help increase awareness of the need for clean bathrooms and to properly wash hands and faces to eradicate trachoma.

"Trachoma prevalence in Indigenous children between the ages of five and nine has reduced from 14 per cent in 2009 to 4.7 per cent in 2014. We want to eliminate trachoma completely.

"This funding will also improve coordination between the multiple indigenous health organisations who deal with patients who have eye health issues.

“Coordinators will work with stakeholders like Local Hospital Networks, Primary Health Networks and Indigenous health services to make sure patients get the care they need when they need it.

"These Coordinators will help make sure patients receive the best 'end to end' care - from the moment they seek care to after the issue is dealt with.

“I congratulate Vision 2020 and their partners in the Indigenous Eye Health Unit at the University of Melbourne, Optometry Australia, the Fred Hollows Foundation, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, and the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists for bringing forward a consolidated sector proposal to improve Indigenous eye health.

“Good vision is vital for social, educational and employment participation and I want to continue to see an increase in Indigenous eye health.

“World Sight Day is on October 8 and I encourage everyone to do what they can to raise awareness about avoidable blindness and vision loss.”

For further information about World Sight Day and Indigenous eye health activities, visit the Vision 2020 website

ENDS

Media Contact

Les White, +61 409 805 122 les.white@health.gov.au

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