Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) has recently provided the Department of Health and Ageing with a progress update on the National Strategic Action Plan for Macular Disease. The National Action Plan was first developed in 2019 and recommended 44 actions across prevention, treatment, support and research. The Department of Health is refreshing their National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions, and this includes a check in on what has been achieved and learned through the National Action Plans.
MDFA was pleased to report on some significant areas of progress over the last four years, including:
- · Raising community awareness of the signs and symptoms of macular disease and ways to reduce risk and detect it earlier – so far more than 200,000 people have completed the Check My Macula quiz since its launch, and now know their individual risk factors and what actions they should take;
- · Increasing awareness, understanding and knowledge of a range of health professional groups including optometrists, orthoptists, and pharmacists through our online education modules;
- · Increasing the evidence base on policy opportunities to assist people to persist with sight-saving intravitreal injections; and
- · Developing the first independent, personalised support service for all people living with age-related macular degeneration.
Reflecting on this review of the National Action Plan, it has identified a number of areas where we still need to see change, such as:
- · Improving access to public hospital services for people with disease, especially those requiring intravitreal injections;
- · Improving the affordability of sight saving eye injections and improving persistence with treatment;
- · Improving accessibility to low vision aids and technology;
- · Bridging the gaps between the health, aged care and disability services;
- · Boosting research funding to eye health;
- · Scaling personalised support to people living with macular disease and their carers through evidence-based health information, practical advice and psychosocial support through MDFA’s programs and services.
Our success to date in progressing the National Action Plan is thanks to MDFA’s strong relationships with health professionals and researchers like yourselves. These partnerships combined with our unique connection to the community, and our understanding of evidence-based treatments and interventions are so vital for reducing the impact of macular disease. MDFA is very grateful for the funding support from and strong partnership with the Department of Health in implementing the National Action. We hope that the Australian Government will consider further funding for the remaining gaps and new opportunities to treat this most significant area of eye health.
Posted: 20 September 2023
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