Don Perlgut, CEO Rural Health Education Foundation, writes:

I am pleased to report that a new Rural Health Education Foundation program about improving eye health among Australia’s Indigenous population will be broadcast live on 26th July as a ground-breaking simulcast through three different media.

A Clear View: Improving Indigenous Eye Health is a live, hour-long educational TV program for health and medical professionals that will air on both the Rural Health Education Foundation’s satellite television network and on National Indigenous Television (NITV) at 8pm (AEST) on Tuesday July 26th.  The program will also be presented interactively over the web, enabling live participation by viewers.

Despite the fact that Indigenous children are born with better eyesight than their non-Indigenous counterparts, they are six times more likely to be blind and three times more likely to have low vision by the time they reach adulthood.

The recent AIHW report Eye Health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (May 2011) found that the leading causes of vision loss include uncorrected refractive error, cataracts, trachoma and diabetic retinopathy. Up to 94% of this vision loss is preventable or treatable.

Research has concluded that much of the current state of poor eye health of Indigenous people is due to inappropriate or inadequate health service delivery.  Cataracts are the most common cause of bilateral blindness, and only two thirds of Indigenous people with cataracts receive surgery.

There is a need for culturally appropriate awareness and understanding on the part of health professionals to enhance early detection and treatment, and A Clear View attempts to meet this need.  For more than 18 months the Foundation has had this project in development, with the assistance of Professor Hugh Taylor AC, Harold Mitchell Professor of Indigenous Eye Health, University of Melbourne.

The pilot “simulcast” with NITV will give additional exposure to this program, particularly among Indigenous Australians and the health professionals who serve them.  NITV has already screened more than twenty of the Foundation’s programs.  However, A Clear View breaks new ground as the first program both organisations are broadcasting live as the same time.

The format for this program is a panel discussion (with filmed case studies) chaired by Dr Norman Swan (presenter of the Health Report on ABC Radio National).

In addition to Professor Taylor, the panel of expert health practitioners includes Dr Tim Henderson, Eye Specialist, Alice Springs Hospital, NT; Ms Anna Morse, Optometrist, Project Manager, Aboriginal Eye Care, International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE); and Ms Barbara O’Connor, Indigenous Regional Eye Health Coordinator, Woolloongabba, QLD.

A Clear View: Improving Indigenous Eye Health has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, the IOOF Foundation, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and Allergan through an unrestricted educational grant.

Anyone who wants to participate in the webcast should pre-register online through the program page. Follow the on-screen instructions to log in, or for first time users to register and log in.  Please contact us on (02) 6232 5480 or [email protected] if you have any questions.

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