Indigenous eye health discussed at RANZCO Congress

September 2016

Over a thousand delegates are expected at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologist (RANZCO) 48th Annual Scientific Congress at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre this November.

As well as guests from across Australia and New Zealand, an international contingent from the Asia-Pacific region is expected. One of the attendees to the congress will be Club Melbourne Ambassador, Professor Hugh Taylor AC. 

Professor Taylor and his fellow ophthalmologists will discuss the latest developments as well as network with other practitioners. He still highly values the social component of conferences. 

“They bring people together. You can learn about the advancements in ophthalmology over the internet, but there is nothing quite like the value you get out of discussing it face to face. The social interaction is a very important part of events like RANZCO 2016. It helps creates a cohesiveness in the sector,” Professor Taylor said.

He believes that apart from the congress itself, the delegates will have a wonderful time during the four-day event (with a number of social events and tours planned), as Melbourne is one of the best cities in the world to host a conference. He states that November is an advantageous time to hold an event as “it’s a great time of year in Melbourne. The weather is lovely and the city is alive with Cup season fever".

Indigenous eye health 
When asked what part of the congress he is most looking forward to, a hint of excitement enters his voice as he explains that a progress report on closing the gap for vision health for Indigenous Australians will be presented.

Professor Taylor is a champion of indigenous eye health issues, starting his work in the 1970s alongside Fred Hollows. After conducting a review in indigenous eye health for the Commonwealth in 1997 and seeing a complete lack of action to remedy the issue, he decided to pour his energy into it, devoting himself to the cause since 2008.

In the years since, Professor Taylor has witnessed a significant improvement in indigenous health eye, mostly due to the implementation of recommendations he helped devise. While the specifics of the report will be announced at the conference, he did inform us the results were very positive. 

“We’ve made some excellent progress recently, especially with working with the government to implement the recommended changes to improve blindness and vision loss in Indigenous Australians,” he said.

The closing the gap announcement will be complemented by a session during the RANZCO Congress discussing Koori culture, with special guest speaker, Deborah Cheetham, who is an indigenous opera singer. Professor Taylor suggests everyone attend this session as it promotes cultural awareness and understanding, which will not only assist to close the gap, but “will make you a better Australian too.”

Who should attend?
Professor Taylor thinks that RANZCO 2016 would be beneficial to ophthalmologists of all levels and experience. He also wants to see people who work with ophthalmologists (e.g. technicians) attend as it will give them a better understanding of the field. 

If you would like to join Professor Taylor at the RANZCO Congress, you can do so on the 19-23 November, 2016.