Australia funds its first ‘National Eye Health Survey’

Director - Global Partnerships and Advocacy
Organisation: The Fred Hollows Foundation

This is great news from Australia. The following post is an abridged version of Jennifer Gersbeck’s full post on the Vision 2020 Australia website.

UPDATE: China and Philippines are also preparing national surveys of blindness, writes Damian Facciolo, IAPB Western Pacific

We’re often told that governments strongly support this initiative or that programme, but sometimes it is hard to know exactly what that means. It is only when the government actually demonstrates its support through funding or policy change that we truly see the strength of commitment. Well, that is exactly what happened recently when I received a call from Australia’s Commonwealth Department of Health to advise that the Federal Government is contributing $1.126m to support the first ever National Eye Health Survey (NEHS).

In the current political and fiscal climate within Australia –  with the Federal Budget clawing back major Government spending – it is important to recognise the Minister for Health, Hon Peter Dutton’s understanding and commitment to eye health and vision care. 

Nation-wide population health data on the prevalence and causes of vision loss and vision impairment for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians does not currently exist; extant data is nearly two decades old. Australia has committed to a reduction in prevalence by twenty-five per cent but we don’t even have a starting point with which to measure our progress; and without a strong evidence base for determining what specific services are required and where, we’re stabbing in the dark with our efforts.

I therefore commend the Australian Government for acknowledging the significance of this data and, more importantly, for recognising how this data will enable frontline services to be delivered where they are most needed. I also acknowledge the support from Vision 2020 Australia’s members in achieving this outcome.

These outcomes are a truly outstanding display of sector collaboration that continues to show that together, we can not only imagine what is possible, but also achieve it.