On National Close the Gap Day, it is a good time to highlight a practical plan ready to be implemented which will make a difference and ‘Close the Gap for Vision’. Last month on 23 February in Adelaide, the Hon Warren Snowdon, Minister for Indigenous Health launched the latest report from the Indigenous Eye Health Unit based at the University of Melbourne. ‘The Roadmap to Close the Gap for Vision’ report presents the findings of research consultations with over 370 participants in 21 locations across Australia, covering remote, regional and urban populations.
The consultations were conducted with clients and staff of Aboriginal Health Services, hospitals, eye health practitioners and government departments in all states and territories. Key stakeholders were involved in a series of workshops and meetings to develop and test solutions to address the barriers that limit access to eye care services.
The Roadmap outlines 42 interlocking recommendations to eliminate unnecessary vision loss for Indigenous Australians and has been presented to Australian governments as a comprehensive package requiring full and immediate implementation.
For full implementation of the Roadmap recommendations, support from all governments is needed to fund an additional $68.25 million over the next five years.
The Roadmap concludes that with only this doubling of funding for Indigenous eye health, cataract surgery can increase seven times, diabetic examinations can increase five times and the use of glasses can increase 2.5 times.
Having presented the Roadmap to government, the Indigenous Eye Health Unit led by Professor Hugh R. Taylor AC will continue with advocacy and technical support to have these recommendations adopted and implemented. With the evidence, strategy and capacity to eliminate unnecessary vision loss for Indigenous Australians – now is the time to Close the Gap for Vision.