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Eyes on improving indigenous health

EYE-OPENER: Rebecca Simon and IDEAS program coordinator Sharelle Eggmolesse inspect the van’s medical facilities during an open day yesterday.
EYE-OPENER: Rebecca Simon and IDEAS program coordinator Sharelle Eggmolesse inspect the van’s medical facilities during an open day yesterday. Matthew Lee

AN eye-opening statistic that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have six- times the rate of blindness of other Australians meant something had to be done.

Startlingly, 94% of vision loss in indigenous Australians is preventable or treatable.

Gympie woman Rebecca Simon knows the battle indigenous people face when trying to access health care in remote communities, so was thrilled to participate yesterday in an open day for the Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening van.

The van is mounted on the back of a truck and ensures remote indigenous communities do not fall behind in maintaining good eye health.

"I think this is such a great service and it is so important to get the word out," she said.

"People in remote communities can't just get to the major centres easily and there can be a lot of anxiety about that.

"This service comes straight to them."

So far, the Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening van has seen 1400 people and carried out 623 treatments, while travelling 5000km every month.

Yesterday's Gympie visit was held in conjunction with World Sight Day.

Queensland Health provided $5million to fund the life-changing project as part of the Qld Government's tribute celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

The van's services are bulk billed and aim to close the health gap experienced in indigenous communities.

Topics:  aboriginal gympie

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