NACCHO Aboriginal Health NEWS : Dr Mark Wenitong urges health action to Close the Gap

Dr Mark

Dr Mark Wenitong, a Kabi Kabi man and a leading Indigenous doctor from Cape York and advisor to NACCHO, urged governments to support community controlled indigenous health.

“My mother’s work inspired me to see what health services can do for our communities and the need that exists, as well as the privilege to work with our people in health, which has been passed on to all of my children,”

“I can only do so much as a an individual doctor in a clinic, and this is why we need structures that can empower local communities.”

Dr Mark Wenitong, with his daughter Naomi  pictured outside NACCHO member service Apunipima Cape York Health Council  in Cairns: Picture Juliana Doupe

Activists urge indigenous health action 

Report by: PATRICIA KARVELAS  From: The Australian

THE Close the Gap Campaign will demand the Abbott government prioritise indigenous health, warning that the goal of ending the health equality gap by 2030 will not be met unless urgent action is taken.

On the day Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivers his first annual closing the gap statement to the federal parliament, Close the Gap co-chairs Mick Gooda and Kirstie Parker will release their report on progress and priorities, which says the issue of health must be given higher priority.

The report warns that a “false economy” of short-term savings would hurt the effort to improve indigenous health and cost more in the long run.

“A dollar saved today may result in the need to spend many more in years to come. In particular, the national effort to close the gap requires a shift from expenditure on hospitals to that on primary healthcare, with its preventive emphasis.”

The pair call for the Coalition government to forge an agreement through COAG on a new national partnership for indigenous health and early childhood development.

“We’re just starting to see reductions in smoking rates and improvements in maternal and childhood health. We need to build on these successes,” said Mr Gooda, who is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“This is a national effort that can achieve generational change. It is critical that Close the Gap continues as a national priority. We need to stay on track.”

Ms Parker, who is also co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, said health services provided economic benefits for indigenous people.

“We know that empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services has broader benefits. Health services are the single biggest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she said.

Mark Wenitong, a Kabi Kabi man and a leading indigenous doctor from Cape York, urged governments to support community controlled indigenous health.

Dr Wenitong’s mother, Lealon Wenitong, was one of Queensland’s first Aboriginal health workers, and both his children will work in medicine.

His son Joel is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Newcastle and his daughter Naomi works in social and emotional wellbeing with young people promoting pride, self-respect and identity.

“My mother’s work inspired me to see what health services can do for our communities and the need that exists, as well as the privilege to work with our people in health, which has been passed on to all of my children,” Dr Wenitong said.

“I can only do so much as a an individual doctor in a clinic, and this is why we need structures that can empower local communities.”

One comment on “NACCHO Aboriginal Health NEWS : Dr Mark Wenitong urges health action to Close the Gap

  1. Pingback: NACCHO member news: Apunipima Cape York Health Council welcomes the Close the Gap Report and continued investment into Aboriginal health services. | NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alerts