I attended the launch of the Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision on Thursday 23 February with The Hon Warren Snowdon MP at the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia. The report outlines current Australian health systems and policy around eye health and vision care and the findings from research undertaken by the Indigenous Eye Health Unit over the past five years.
The Roadmap highlights that blindness rates in Indigenous adults are 6 times the rate in mainstream. 94 per cent of the vision loss is preventable or treatable but 35 per cent of Indigenous adults have never had an eye exam.
Vision 2020 Australia and the members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee support the Roadmap in principle and will plan key messages around advocacy for the Roadmap. According to the Roadmap it will cost just $70 million to close the gap. Implementation will take planning and coordination and it can be achieved with a collaborative approach by the sector. Investment will achieve a 7 times increase in cataract surgeries, 5 times increase in diabetic examinations and 2.5 times the use of glasses. This is an area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health that the Australian Government needs to acknowledge and support.
The full report can be downloaded from the Indigenous Eye Health Unit website: http://iehu.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/783912/The_Roadmap_to_Close_the_Gap_for_Vision-_Summary_Report_2013_April.pdf