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HomeminewsThe Foundation and RANZCO Commit to Closing The Gap

The Foundation and RANZCO Commit to Closing The Gap

The Fred Hollows Foundation (The Foundation) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology (RANZCO) will strengthen their commitment to closing the gap in eye health that exists between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians. As the Australian health system recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, access to ophthalmic care is likely to worsen for Indigenous Australians, signifying the importance of ensuring access to culturally safe eye health.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are already less likely to receive equity of access to cataract surgery and other ophthalmic treatment with only 59% of those needing cataract surgery receiving it. This is compared to 89% of other Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are already less likely to receive equity of access to cataract surgery and other ophthalmic treatment with only 59% of those needing cataract surgery receiving it

Due to restrictions on entering remote communities in the current health crisis, limited access to ophthalmic services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will further delay access to cataract surgery and other essential eye health procedures. The Foundation and RANZCO have acknowledged that without dedicated planning and commitment, the gap in eye health outcomes will widen.

In response to this, The Foundation and RANZCO have issued a statement urging Departments of Health, hospitals and ophthalmologists to consider equity of access as elective surgery recommences. In order to ensure this, they are encouraging the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to include equity for Indigenous Australians as a core principal.

The two organisations have also recommended that ophthalmologists give patients an opportunity to identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and offer bulk billing accordingly. As well as this, The Foundation and RANZCO encourage the collaboration of private and public hospitals to help address the backlog of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients waiting for cataract surgery.

In light of the 2020 National Reconciliation Week theme, In This Together, The Foundation and RANZCO encourage a collaborative effort to closing the gap.

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