Remote Eye Health Service loses $5m in federal-government funding

IRIS has, for the past four years, visited the most-rote parts of the continent and saved the sight of thousands for the outlay of $5 million in federal funding.
Sadly, though, funding has been cut for the one truly national program that could save their sight. The stark reality is that the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people is being widened not closed.
The funding was discontinued this year despite strenuous efforts to enable it to continue. IRIS is an initiative of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists (ASO) which commenced at the direct request of then health minister, Ms Nicola Roxon, and has been funded by the federal health department.
The IRIS Task Force is chaired by former Wallaby captain and ophthalmologist, Dr Mark Loane, with the very active involvent of fellow ophthalmologist, Dr Bill Glasson. Its track record includes:
– 12,800 outpatient consultations in the back of beyond;
– 2,100 surgical procedures (mostly restoring sight);
– Supported the establishment of 22 repeatable and ongoing eye health services;
– Purchased and placed $2 million worth of diagnostic and surgical equipment in rote outposts (still in place); and
– Piloted two separate tele-medicine initiatives to support rote eye care.

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