After the first year working with Indigenous Australians in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District in Griffith (NSW), the team provided the very first training session on vision screening for the local Aboriginal nurses and support staff. The training also included an ophthalmic equipment kit to help them to provide their outreach services. Continuous training not only empowers the local staff but increases their ability to undertake local cataract blindness procedures in the future.
As a result of this training, the current nursing staff are now capable to go out into the communities and screen patients and determine what follow up action is necessary. This will also mean more access to eye care services to more remote and underserved Aboriginal communities around the district. Unfortunately, 35 % of Indigenous adults have never had an eye exam so including vision screening in the current outreach programs will help lower this alarming statistic.
There is still much needed assistance to reduce the waiting list reduction for cataract surgery. This reflects the horrible statistics showing that 1 out of 3 indigenous people go blind. Regular surgical and consulting visits by our volunteering doctors and nursing team, will be necessary to reduce the rate of blindness.
Those visits will also provide training opportunities for other registrars,medical students and together with the nursing staff, with a special priority in surgical skills and theatre efficiency.
That is why this year, we will be relying more on your support so that together we will be able to implement these activities as soon as possible.