The Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI) has announced that the Australian Government has extended funding of a national eye health screening programme by $2.5m.
The Provision of Eye Health Equipment and Training programme, which is run in partnership between the BHVI and the Australian College of Optometry, also works with the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, Centre for Eye Health and Optometry Australia.
The project aims to increase the number of annual retinal checks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes using a non-mydriatic retinal camera.
The additional funds will be used to purchase retinal cameras and provide training to health care professionals performing the screening. The programme is currently rolling out retinal cameras, training and support for the health services provided in 105 sites across Australia. The additional funding will enable an estimated 150 retinal cameras to be rolled out to sites by June 2020.
As a result of the additional funding, the organisations will design and deliver an educational course aimed at embedding the retinal cameras into existing health care services. This will include workshops with GPs, health service managers and other associated staff, the BHVI confirmed.
Regional director for Asia Pacific at the BHVI, Mitasha Yu, said: “We are very pleased we have an extended opportunity to make further inroads towards addressing the inequalities in eye care that exist within Australia. At a community level, our focus is firmly on ensuring the provision of cameras and our training is translating into skill uptake, enabling greater empowerment for participants to work more effectively on the ground.”
Chief executive officer of the Australian College of Optometry, Maureen O’Keefe, added: “The commitment of the Australian Government to improving the equity of eye health access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can clearly be seen in this funding extension for the Provision of Eye Health Equipment and Training programme, with the total funding of $7.3M enabling the provision of retinal cameras and training across Australia. The embedding of this programme in a sustainable way at community level continues to be the highest priority as the programme is implemented.”