21 August 2019
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
The Australian National Eye Health Survey continues to repay dividends on the investment by the Australian Government. In addition to the 30+ peer reviewed publications that project has already generated, the latest report on Indigenous Eye Health from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is gaining traction and starting to help shape the development of improved health and care services. The Australian NEHS project showed that indigenous Australians were significantly more likely to be living with an undiagnosed eye disease or undetected visual impairment than the rest of the population (2.8 times the prevalence of non-Indigenous Australians). They were also less likely to have had an eye examination in the last year. The data that the Australian NEHS has provided is enabling policy makers and advisers to develop evidence based strategies to refine service models so that these inequalities can start to be reduced. Having current, high quality data is key to being able to develop effective and efficient health policy – this AIHW demonstrates this elegantly. The researcher who developed and led the Australian NEHS, Dr Mo Dirani, is a co-investigator on the UK NEHS project.
Mo commented on the impact of the Australian NEHS “The team was always clear that although the project was structured to gather high quality research data, at its heart, it was always about the Australian people, and especially Indigenous Australians, who we strongly suspected were not getting the access they needed to services. During the study we identified 1,500 people with previously undetected eye disease or visual impairment and the study team was able to get them the care and treatment they needed. Even without the powerful evidence the NEHS produced, those 1,500 people made the project worthwhile.”