Despite the pandemic interrupting plans, the University’s Indigenous Eye Health team is on track to eradicate trachoma and to Close the Gap for Vision.
After decades of watching public health campaigns try and fail to make meaningful improvements to Indigenous health in Australia, Melbourne Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor AC set up the Indigenous Eye Health Unit (IEHU) at the University of Melbourne in 2008.
They have also improved the regional delivery of eye care by establishing partnerships that now cover 95 per cent of the country. This has helped increase eye exams three-fold and more than doubled cataract surgery patients.
Professor Taylor says none of this work could have been carried out without the generous support of our donor community.
“I feel extremely privileged to have been appointed the Harold Mitchell Chair of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne. Thanks to the philanthropic support of private trusts, foundations and individual donors who made our work possible, we were also able to gain more backing from government.”
“When we started, there was six times as much blindness in Indigenous communities as in non-Indigenous communities,” he says. “By 2015-16 this was halved.”
And there is even more encouraging news. According to a recently published Commonwealth report entitled Indigenous eye health measures 2020, between 2010-11 and 2018-19 the proportion of Indigenous Australians who had an eye health check increased from 11 per cent to 30 per cent.
Although trachoma and avoidable vision loss are yet to be fully stamped out in Australia, there is no doubt Professor Taylor and his team have made significant inroads and the future looks promising, with the Commonwealth and States recently committing to ending avoidable blindness in Indigenous Australians by 2025.
We could not have done this work without the great philanthropic support from private Trusts, Foundations and individual donors.
— Melbourne Laureate Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Chair of Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne
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