Health the basis for closing the gap: AMA
“Unless government policy targets Indigenous health as a priority, it will continue to struggle to get kids into school and adults into jobs.
The focus has often been on education, employment and training, but I think we need to get back to seeing health as the foundation that underpins all those things; unless we improve the health outcomes those issues will remain’
President of the AMA Professor Brian Owler says.
Photo above : Doctor John Boffa Chief Medical Officer Public Health at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Aboriginal Corporation – Professor Brian Owler , Congress Chair William Tilmouth and Hon Warren Snowdon Local Federal Member
Professor Brian Owler is visiting health bodies and clinics in Alice Springs and in remote Aboriginal communities this week to see how health services are delivered locally so the AMA can shape its own policy.
Professor Owler Itinerary:
Wednesday 17 February Alice Springs
Visit Central Australian Aboriginal Congress
Visit Purple House
Visit Alice Springs Hospital
Thursday 18 February Utopia
Visit Urapuntja Health Services
Friday 19 February Kintore
Visit Kintore Clinic
Visit Kintore Dialysis Unit
He said the Closing the Gap report handed down last week indicated there was still a lot of work to do, and that there had been a lack of policy attention on health.
“The focus has often been on education, employment and training, but I think we need to get back to seeing health as the foundation that underpins all those things; unless we improve the health outcomes those issues will remain,” Prof Owler told AAP on Wednesday.
The report showed that the life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians wasn’t closing at a fast enough rate, although infant mortality is on track to be halved by 2018.
A lack of health policy direction likely stemmed from issues fatigue, he said.
“People get fatigued about the seemingly overwhelming problems that are faced; sometimes it becomes a bit easier to focus on other things that are a more in our control, that are a bit more tangible, and those things are making kids go to school and putting people in training programs,” he said.
“They’re really important, but I think we need to get back to some of those basic things and some of the social determinants of health, such as access to healthy food, clean water, decent housing, there are certainly those issues that still exist in the NT (and can be improved).”