Cataract surgery for Gulf patients

Twenty-six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the Lower Gulf will have sight-saving cataract surgery this week as health providers work together to coordinate this logistically challenging endeavour. A second round of cataract surgery will be delivered in November for another 28 locals.

Indigenous Australians are 12 times more likely to go blind from cataracts than non-Indigenous people.

Indigenous Australians are 12 times more likely to go blind from cataracts than non-Indigenous people.

The surgery funding was provided by the Commonwealth Department of Health to CheckUP, a not-for-profit Brisbane health organisation. CheckUP is working with NWHHS with support from Gidgee Healing.

CheckUP CEO Ann Maree Liddy said this enormous undertaking involved considerable planning and the cooperation and goodwill of many organisations from North West Queensland.

“The cataract surgery will make a huge difference to the lives of over 50 people,” she said. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in ATSI people.

“Accessing this surgery is normally very difficult for people living in the more remote areas of Queensland,” Ms Liddy said.

NWHHS CEO Lisa Davies Jones said the opportunity was a real boost for cataract patients in the north-west

“We are delighted to be able to host this life-changing event for so many of our patients, and we’re very grateful to CheckUP for brokering and organising this surgery blitz. We’re also very grateful to the Commonwealth for funding this extraordinary initiative,” Ms Davies Jones said.

Dallas Leon, CEO of Gidgee Healing, is also pleased that this initiative is taking place in Mount Isa over the next two months.

“It’s great to see a range of organisations working together to provide this important service. Thanks to this initiative, over 50 Aboriginal people living in the North West and Lower Gulf regions will now have increased access to potentially life-changing surgery,” he said.

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