NACCHO Aboriginal health news: Smoking fall a win for Aboriginal health, but many problems remain: ABS report

 Koori Mail Handover

THE gap between the health of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians is still “significant”, according to NACCHO the peak body on Aboriginal  health.

It also says improving Aboriginal health should be a priority for all state and territory governments.

Report from Patricia Karvelas The Australian

Picture Above :Justin Mohamed Chair of NACCHO recently launching NACCHO Aboriginal Health newspaper ,with Trevor Kapeen Koori Mail

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2012-13, released today, showed some “encouraging” results in reducing smoking rates but other areas needed more focus.

KEY FINDINGS BELOW or

ABS REPORT and more INFO

Justin Mohamed, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), said the fact that the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) to Close the Gap had not been renewed by all state and territory governments meant that hundreds of health programs that were improving health outcomes were now at risk.

DOWNLOAD THE NACCHO PRESS RELEASE

“The investment in programs to stop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from smoking is reaping rewards with smoking rates on the decrease,” Mr Mohamed said.

“It is critical that investment in these programs continues so we maintain the downward trend.

“The fact that two in five Aboriginal people are still daily smokers means we need to keep our focus on the programs that are working such as those run nationally by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.”

Mr Mohamed said another pleasing result was the reduction in the prevalence of ear and hearing problems since 2001.

“However we are still seeing rates of diabetes, asthma and heart and kidney disease are way too high in both remote and urban Aboriginal communities. Obesity rates are 1.5 times non-Aboriginal communities and other areas of concern are alcohol consumption and mental health.”

Mr Mohamed said improving Aboriginal health required long-term commitment and investment, and leadership at the national level.

“There are no quick fixes in Aboriginal health. Todays report shows we are making some headway but achieving generational change means maintaining the momentum,” he said.

“Inaction on the NPA means many of the health programs and services that have contributed to the gains seen in the ABS report will literally have to close their doors within months.”

He said getting the states and territories back on board with a new agreement must now be a priority for the new Coalition government.

“Aboriginal community controlled health services are making a difference in their communities and they need to see continued support from all levels of government.”

KEY FINDINGS

General health

  • In 2012–13, around two in five (39.2%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over considered themselves to be in very good or excellent health, while 7.2% rated their health as poor.
  • Based on age standardised proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were around half as likely as non-Indigenous people to have reported excellent or very good health (rate ratio of 0.6).


Long-term health conditions

Asthma

  • In 2012–13, one in six (17.5%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had asthma.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in non-remote areas were twice as likely as those in remote areas to have asthma (19.6% compared with 9.9%).
  • Based on age standardised proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to have asthma (rate ratio of 1.9) (Endnote 1).

Ear diseases and hearing loss

  • In 2012–13, around one in eight (12.3%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported diseases of the ear and/or hearing problems.
  • Based on age standardised proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely than non-Indigenous people to have diseases of the ear and/or hearing problems (rate ratio of 1.3) (Endnote 1).

Heart and circulatory diseases

  • In 2012–13, around one in eight (12.0%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had heart disease.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rates for heart disease were significantly higher than the comparable rates for non-Indigenous people in all age groups from 15–54 years.
  • Based on age standardised proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely than non-Indigenous people to have asthma (rate ratio of 1.2) (Endnote 1).

Diabetes/high sugar levels

  • In 2012–13, around one in twelve (8.2%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had diabetes mellitus and/or high sugar levels in their blood or urine.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rates for diabetes/high sugar levels were between three and five times as high as the comparable rates for non-Indigenous people in all age groups from 25 years and over.
  • Based on age standardised proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were three times as likely as non-Indigenous people to have diabetes/high sugar levels (rate ratio of 3.3) (Endnote 1).


Health risk factors

Tobacco smoking

  • ln 2012–13, two in five (41.0%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over smoked on a daily basis.
  • Rates of daily smoking for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have come down from 50.9% in 2002 and 44.6% in 2008
  • In 2012–13, current daily smoking was still more prevalent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous people in every age group
  • Based on age standardised proportions, the gap between the daily smoking rate in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and non-Indigenous population was 27 percentage points in 2001 and was 25 percentage points in 2012–13 (Endnote 1).

Alcohol consumption

  • In 2012–13, around one in six (18.0%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had consumed more than two standard drinks per day on average, exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines.
  • Based on age standardised proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and non-Indigenous people were exceeding the lifetime risk guidelines at similar rates (rate ratio of 1.0).
  • In 2012–13, just over half (53.6%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had consumed more than four standard drinks on a single occasion in the past year, exceeding the threshold for single occasion risk.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 35 years and over were significantly more likely than non-Indigenous women in this age group to have exceeded the threshold for single occasion risk
  • Based on age standardised proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were more likely than non-Indigenous people to have exceeded the single occasion risk guidelines (rate ratio of 1.1)(Endnote 1).

Illicit substance use

  • In 2012–13, just over one in five (21.7%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over said that they had used an illicit substance in the previous year.
  • Marijuana was the most commonly reported illicit drug, having been used by one in six (18%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in the previous year.

Overweight and obesity

  • In 2012–13, almost one-third (30.4%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 2–14 years were overweight or obese according to their BMI
  • In 2012–13, two-thirds (65.6%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over were overweight or obese (28.6% and 37.0% respectively), according to their BMI.
  • Obesity rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females and males were significantlyhigher than the comparable rates for non-Indigenous people in almost every age group.

Exercise levels – non-remote areas only

  • In 2012–13, three in five (62%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over were physically inactive and one in ten (10%) had exercise at high intensity.
  • Based on age standardised proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in non-remote areas were more likely than non-Indigenous people to have been sedentary or exercising at low intensity (rate ratio of 1.1) and were only half as likely to have been exercising at high intensity (rate ratio of 0.6) (Endnote 1).
  • In 2012–13, just under half (46%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in non-remote areas had met the National Physical Activity (NPA) Guidelines target of 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days (or a total of 150 minutes per week).
  • Based on age standardised proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in non-remote areas were less likely than non-Indigenous people to have met the NPA targets of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week or 150 minutes and 5 sessions per week (rate ratio of 0.8 for both) (Endnote 1).


Physical measurements

Waist circumference

  • In 2012–13, 60.4% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged 18 years and over had a waist circumference that put them at an increased risk of developing chronic diseases, while 81.4% of women had an increased level of risk.
  • On average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged 18 years and over had a waist measurement of 99.7 cm, while women had a waist measurement of 97.4 cm.

Blood pressure

  • In 2012–13, one in five (20.3%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander adults had measured high blood pressure (systolic or diastolic blood pressure equal to or greater than 140/90 mmHg).
  • Based on age standardised proportions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were more likely than non-Indigenous people to have high blood pressure (rate ratio of 1.2) (Endnote 1).

Health-related actions

Consultations with health professionals

In 2012–13, in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population

  • just over one in five (21.9%) people had consulted a GP or specialist in the last two weeks
  • one in five (18.5%) people had visited a health professional (other than a doctor) in the last two weeks
  • one in twenty (4.8%) people aged two years and over had visited a dental professional in the last two weeks.
  • Between 2001 and 2012–13, use of health professionals (other than GP/specialist) increased significantly from 16.3% to 18.5%.
  • Between 2001 and 2012–13, consultation rates for GP/specialist and dental professionals have remained largely unchanged.

Hospital visits and admissions

In 2012–13, in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population

  • around one in sixteen (6.0%) people had visited the casualty/outpatients/day clinic in the last two weeks
  • around one in six (18.0%) people had been admitted to a hospital in the previous year.

ENDNOTE

1. Difference between the age standardised proportion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people is statistically significant

3 comments on “NACCHO Aboriginal health news: Smoking fall a win for Aboriginal health, but many problems remain: ABS report

  1. Groups encouraged by decline in Indigenous smoking rates

    28 November 2013

    Indigenous groups have welcomed a decline of 10 per cent in rates of Indigenous smoking over the last decade which were revealed yesterday as part of the first results of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey.

    While highlighting a range of lifestyle modifiable results the Survey revealed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are smoking less than ever before.
    AIATSIS Health Research Fellow Dr Ray Lovett said today’s figures are evidence that programs that have refocused efforts in this area – including the National Tackling Indigenous Smoking program headed by Dr Tom Calma – are working.

    “The statistics are especially encouraging given that one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths is related to smoking.”

    Dr Lovett noted that further reductions will take time as evidenced by the 30 year period it took to bring smoking rates from 35 to 16 per cent in the non-Indigenous population.

    “While the results in these areas were positive, the overall results indicate that more attention is required in all these areas given their contribution to the health gap,” said Dr Lovett.

    Dr Calma, the National Coordinator Tackling Indigenous Smoking, is encourage by the decline with Indigenous smoking but also warned against complacency in the national program to tackle Indigenous smoking.

    “The challenge to reduce smoking is immense and will require a sustained and well-funded effort for at least another decade to really make a difference.

    “When encouraged to lead the solutions, Indigenous people are responding overwhelmingly and this should be the blueprint for health solutions in nutrition and physical activity.”

    Dr Calma’s comments are echoed by a range of health advocates who have called on Governments at State, Territory and National levels to continue focusing current approaches and attention on this nation-wide health problem.

    Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver said high rates of smoking are a major contributor to poorer cancer survival rates in Indigenous Australians and that a decrease in smoking rates should lead to improved cancer survival over time.

    “Cancers caused by smoking are among the most difficult to treat, so it’s great to see specific tobacco control programs for Indigenous Australians are translating to reduced tobacco use, ” said Professor Olver.

    Mr Justin Mohamed, Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (NACCHO) considers the fact that two in five Aboriginal people are still daily smokers means we need to keep our focus on the programs that are working such as those run nationally by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.”

    Ms Viki Briggs from the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Tobacco Control (CEITC) said that a drop in prevalence results in lives saved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia.

    “Family members quitting smoking is vitally important to the well-being of communities and it sends a very positive message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

    “We urge the current Governments to continue funding Indigenous Tobacco Control Initiatives,” said Ms Briggs.

    A range of lifestyle modifiable results were also released by the ABS including information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nutrition and physical activity.

    ENDS….

    Contacts:
    John Paul Janke – (AIATSIS) 0408 600 867
    Olivia Greentree (NACCHO) 0439 411 774
    Hollie Jenkins (Cancer Council Australia) 0400 762 010

  2. New data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke every day has declined 10% over the past decade.

    However, due to the general decline in smokers across the population, the gap between the smoking rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians has closed by just 2%.

    The ABS data shows that initiatives to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities need sustained, long-term commitment, say Close the Gap co-chairs Mick Gooda and Kirstie Parker.

    “This data is important because smoking has a significant impact on the health and life expectancy gaps between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians,” said Mr Gooda, who is also the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

    “The decline in smoking is good news, but health outcomes for our communities will continue to reflect the long-term damage caused by the high level of smoking. And it will take time for the closing the gap initiatives to be reflected in health data.”

    Ms Parker, who is also co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, said implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan and renewal of the National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes are essential components of efforts to close the gap.

    “The last National Partnership Agreement provided much needed funding to address chronic diseases including smoking,” Ms Parker said.

    “The impacts of this funding are yet to be reflected in the data. Improvements will take time and we cannot afford to divert attention or funding.

    “The Campaign will continue to analyse the data in this survey closely as it will enable us to assess our efforts to close the life expectancy gap over time.

  3. From the Greens Party
    PM needs to take the lead on National Partnership Agreement negotiations

    The Australian Greens have called on the Prime Minister to expedite negotiations with the states and territories over the National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes, with ABS data showing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples still face significant health challenges and gaps in life expectancy.

    “Unfortunately the Commonwealth isn’t actively pursuing the states and territories to encourage them to sign up to the next National Partnership Agreement. Given the Prime Minister’s often stated commitment to ending disadvantage for Aboriginal peoples, I would have thought this would be a priority,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues said today.

    “During Senate Estimates last Friday, Departmental officials working on the NPA said the states were waiting for advice from the new Government as to their intentions, so it is not clear where the overall process is up to, or how far we are from the agreement being finalised.

    “The Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, released by the ABS, shows that while some improvements have been made in areas such as the smoking rate, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be affected by long-term health conditions at a higher rate than non-Indigenous Australians.

    “It is encouraging to see smoking rates declining, along with a jump in the number of young people who have never smoked. This is a strong step towards ensuring people enjoy better, lifelong health and it is pleasing to see the investment in this area is having an impact.

    “However the survey has found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to have asthma and three times as likely to have diabetes or high sugar levels. Rates of conditions such as heart disease and hearing health problems are also higher.

    “Statistics on mental health are also concerning, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples almost three times as likely to have experienced high to very high psychological distress in the four weeks before they participated in the ABS survey.

    “Delays in reaching an agreement on the NPA undermines existing health programs and the community driven, localised solutions being delivered through Aboriginal Community Health services.

    “It is time that all levels of government started living up to their Closing the Gap responsibilities. This needs to start with the Prime Minister taking responsibility for finalising the National Partnership Agreement between the states, territories and Commonwealth,” Senator Siewert concluded.

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