27th April 2011: More South Burnett children will have access to specialist ear health services closer to home with the expansion of a mobile screening project.
Queensland Health Minister Geoff Wilson
said the program gave aboriginal children in Cherbourg and the South Burnett access to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist without having to travel.
"This is an innovative new way to deliver these specialist services to children closer to home," Mr Wilson said. "Under this expansion - part of the Deadly Ears
program - mobile screening is being provided in more local schools and day care centres
"Before this, children had to go to a hospital or primary health care centre for ear health screening. And many simply did not attend. But by ensuring children can more easily access this important service we're hoping to improve treatment rates and ultimately prevent hearing loss.
"We expect to see over 1,000 children
screened in the region in the next 12 months, with the proportion of young people who have been screened growing to around 82%."
More than 30 students from Years 8 to 12 at Murgon High School
were amongst the first screened today.
Mr Wilson said the Bligh Government had provided more than $205,000 in new funding to expand the mobile screening program. One staff member is already in place and a second was being recruited and is expected to start work next month. This will take the number of schools being serviced from 15 to 20.
Mr Wilson said under the program images of the children's ears are sent to a specialist via a secure wireless internet link to allow their ear health to be assessed rapidly and treatment prioritised.
The ear health program is specifically targeted at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, to help address issues around endemic ear disease in the community.