News Van fights blind­ness

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

MOSS­MAN res­i­dents will be able to ac­cess a world-first mo­bile de­tec­tion and treat­ment van which has been launched to pre­vent blind­ness in indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

The $5 mil­lion Indige­nous Di­a­betes Eyes and Screen­ing van will as­sist 27 Abo­rig­i­nal med­i­cal clin­ics in Queens­land – in­clud­ing Moss­man – and visit nine re­gional hubs in­clud­ing Cairns.

Mem­ber for Bar­ron River Michael Trout said it was the first of its kind in the world.

‘‘It not only de­tects but treats and it will go around Queens­land . . . from Nor­man­ton to Mt Isa and the indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties down to Bris­bane,’’ he said.

Oph­thal­mol­o­gists and op­tometrists trav­el­ling in the van, which will be back in Cairns on March 17, will treat about 40 pa­tients each day.

‘‘Later, they will see up to 100 people a day,’’ Mr Trout said.

Pro­gram ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Lyn­dall De Marco said the two-year pi­lot project would help in re­duce blind­ness due to di­a­betes.

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately the Cairns re­gion, per pop­u­la­tion, has the big­gest prob­lem than in any indige­nous com­mu­nity,’’ she said.

‘‘There is a lot of work to be done in Cairns and sur­round­ing area.’’

She said 27 Abo­rig­i­nal med­i­cal clin­ics in­clud­ing those in Moss­man, Yarrabah, In­n­is­fail, Ma­reeba and Ather­ton had been sup­plied with my­dri­atic reti­nal cam­eras which would test pa­tients be­fore be­ing re­ferred to the van for treat­ment.

‘‘At all of these places we will be want­ing to screen and find whether or not these people are at risk.

‘‘(Pa­tients) don’t want to go to Bris­bane or a cap­i­tal city. This is re­ally clos­ing the remoteness gap and the eco­nomic gap...’’

The van will visit each re­gion ev­ery 4-5 weeks.

Pic­ture: BRENDAN FRAN­CIS

TREAT­MENT: Bernie Sin­gle­ton be­ing ex­am­ined by Oph­thal­mol­o­gist Dr Ramin Zadeh

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