Eight locals are optimistic about their optical health after receiving sight-saving cataract surgery in Roma on the weekend.
The group from Charleville were among sixty to visit a team of medical specialists who visited the Roma to deliver surgery to sixty Indiengous and Torres Strait Islander patients from thirteen districts across the South West.
The services come as an initiative of Brisbane-based non-profit CheckUP, which aims to make specialist health services more accessible to people in rural and remote areas.
“The stress of having to leave their homes, their families and other social and work circumstances to have to travel to somewhere like Toowoomba or Brisbane is actually a huge imposition and sometimes people just aren’t able to go,” says CheckUP CEO, Ann Marie Liddy.
“To be able to bring this surgery to much closer to home that means that people really can have life changing surgery is a great thing and it’s something we’re really proud of.”
Charleville and Western Areas Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Community Health (CWAATSICH) CEO, Cheryl Lawton, says that long travel distances are a barrier for Indigenous patients seeking health care services.
“We’ve actually fought for a long time to have these operations closer to home because a lot of our people won’t travel to Brisbane,” she says.
The surgery aims to improve the life quality of Indigenous patients with diabetes and chronic illnesses.
“We know that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and accessing this surgery is normally very difficult for people living in the more remote areas of Queensland,” says Ms Liddy.
“This surgery is potentially life changing as it will allow people to continue to live independently in their communities.”
Sights were set high to pull off the logistical feat, which involved a coordinating with a number of local health organisations to get patients to and from Roma for the operations.
But for local woman Kay Smith, the efforts have paid off.
“This is something for the outback people… this is something that they can reach.”
Remaining patients will undergo surgery in March.