Monash University is implementing a new program to train Mildura-based doctors and medical students in ophthalmology to improve the eye health of local children.
Ophthalmologist Dr Rahul Chakrabarti – a Monash University medical graduate who completed his first, second and fourth-year clinical placements in Mildura – will be returning to the regional city once a month to conduct ophthalmology clinics and provide hands-on tutorials for Monash medical students.
Research shows children in Mildura are currently 2.5 times as likely to be admitted to hospital for eye diseases compared to the rest of regional Victoria.
Additionally, the 2018 State of Mildura City Report revealed that, between 2013 and 2016, the rate of Mildura children under nine admitted to hospital for eye disease and complications was 14.9 per 10,000 compared to the average across regional Victoria of 10.8 per 10,000.
Associate Professor Shane Bullock, acting head of Monash Rural Health, said no separate data on Indigenous child eye health was available but it was likely to be at an even greater rate than 14.9 per 10,000 children.
He hoped this inequity would be addressed in the program that will see Chakrabarti train medical students in Mildura at regular clinics hosted in the city.
Chakrabarti is involved in ophthalmic education in Melbourne for ophthalmology registrars, medical students, emergency medicine trainees and GPs and is passionate about educating medical students in ophthalmology.
“It’s not just a matter of helping patients see better, there is also the issue of making doctors more comfortable in examining eyes, whether it’s in general practice or the emergency department,” he said.
“For the most part, doctors are unfamiliar with ophthalmology which is often poorly covered in medical training. It’s just a matter of demystifying a lot of eye conditions through skills-based teaching.”
Chakrabarti, who grew up in Whyalla in South Australia, remembers the long wait his mother endured for gall bladder surgery because of the difficulties in getting a surgeon to a regional town.
“It’s important that people in regional areas have the same access to the same surgeries that people in metro areas have, which is why I am so happy to be able to bring my clinical skills and training to Mildura on a regular basis,” he said.
Chakrabarti will be visiting the Mildura Eye Specialist clinic on 8-10 July and doing a once per month operating list at Mildura Base Public Hospital.