News Van fights blindness
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.
TREATMENT: Bernie Singleton being examined by Ophthalmologist Dr Ramin Zadeh