This Chapter examines the context within which the MSOAP and VOS programs have been developed and operate. Issues that are specifically relevant to the provision of medical specialist and optometry services are highlighted. It is important to acknowledge there are many other challenges for health service delivery in rural and remote population, for example, in achieving adequate access to primary health care services. Key issues are:
- demographic features of rural and remote populations
- the health status of rural and remote populations
- the challenges for private practice specialist medical practitioners and optometrists in providing services to rural and remote populations
- the specialist medical practitioner and optometry workforce in rural and remote areas.