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Australia is the only developed country in the world to still have active trachoma in remote Indigenous communities and is a leading cause of infectious blindness which is entirely preventable.
Evonne Goolagong, Deborah Mailman, Catherine Freeman, Marcia Langton, Shellie Morris and 2012 Deadly Awards sportswoman of the year Bo de la Cruz, have all lent their support to the Trachoma Elimination Women’s Education Series, which will be aired by the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association radio 8 kin FM, (CAAMA) over the next six months.
The Indigenous Eye Health Unit at the University of Melbourne and the Centre for Disease Control NT Department of Health, along with the recording support of Melbourne's Indigenous radio 3KND, have developed the radio campaign to educate women and their families to help eliminate blindness caused by trachoma.
The program will be launched today at the CAAMA Radio station in Alice Springs.
Ms Fiona Lange, Health Promotion Officer at the Indigenous Eye Health Unit at the University of Melbourne said it was the first radio program about trachoma for community members and especially women in remote communities.
“The message ‘Clean faces, strong eyes’ encourages good hygiene practices and we hope the mums, grannies, aunties and elders will be motivated to ensure that children’s faces are clean to reduce the incidence of trachoma,” she said.
The five part radio segments will teach women and families across the Northern Territory about trachoma and explain simple steps to help eliminate the condition and other infectious diseases.
“With the voices of these inspiring Indigenous women and using the motto ‘Clean faces, strong eyes’ the women’s radio series shows that clean faces and holistic hygiene is something everyone can do to stop the spread of not only trachoma but other diseases such as diarrhea, respiratory and ear infections,” Ms Lange said.
Professor Hugh Taylor, Director of the Indigenous Eye Health Unit said having clean faces is one of the four parts of the WHO strategy for the elimination of trachoma.
“Working with the Northern Territory Government, Centre for Disease Control and CAAMA, we can really get the message out regarding this critical the health campaign.
“In doing so, we hope to eliminate trachoma particularly in the NT in the next five years,” he said.
“We are delighted to be working with CAAMA radio on this project. Radio is a very powerful way to reach remote communities and deliver the important health message directly to women and elders because of the critical role they can play in keeping children’s faces clean.