NACCHO Aboriginal Ear Health #closethegap : Action to tackle Indigenous ear disease announced

CDick

“Australia has one of the highest recorded rates of middle ear disease in the world for its First Nations peoples,”

“If left untreated, the hearing loss associated with middle ear disease impacts on health, educational outcomes and contributes to long-term social disadvantage.

“We want to make sure every child is afforded the best opportunity to listen, learn and reach their full potential.”

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said middle ear disease (otitis media) affected a substantial number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Can’t hear, considered a naughty person in the classroom, put at the back, kicked out of classroom, didn’t get education, illiterate, innumerate, welfare dependent, social disharmony – all these things occur,”

“Every opportunity that we get to meet a child, we should be looking at ears to make sure they’re okay,”

Tackling the problem is a passion of Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong, whose speciality is ear, nose and throat.

A new initiative aimed at tackling ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children was launched today.

The Deadly Kids, Deadly Futures – Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Ear and Hearing Health Framework 2016-2026 – is the first of its kind in Australia and aims to prevent and manage the high rate of middle ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

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Picture above : Dr Kelvin Kong Ear Nose and Throat surgeon, Lizzie Adams Chair of QAIHC  , Cameron Dick

“We want to make sure every child is afforded the best opportunity to listen, learn and reach their full potential.”

“Through this initiative we aim to upskill doctors and nurses, provide training for teachers across Queensland and strengthen relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders health services and communities.”

Mr Dick said the new framework was built on the foundations of the highly successful Deadly Ears program which had seen considerable improvements in Indigenous child ear health over the past eight years.

Minister for Education Kate Jones said while considerable improvements had been made in the area of Indigenous ear health, more work needed to be done to close the gap by 2030.

“The implementation of this framework is a vital step towards achieving the health, early childhood development and education closing the gap targets,” she said.

Deadly Ears program director Matthew Brown said since launching the statewide service the team had conducted more than 12,200 assessments of children at ENT clinics and provided ear health training to more than over 1000 local service providers across Queensland.

“We are delighted to continue this important work under the new framework. We’ve made good progress but more needs to be done,” he said.

“Our key priorities include prioritising health promotion and prevention and implementing effective early intervention approaches to break the cycle of the disease as early and as soon as possible.

Deadly Kids, Deadly Futures 2016-2026 includes 36 actions in the health, early childhood and education sectors related to health promotion and prevention, service improvements, workforce development and data collection and research.

Indigenous middle ear disease: New 10-year plan launched to help children in Queensland

Queensland health authorities have launched a new 10-year plan to try and tackle middle ear disease which plagues Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia and is linked to a raft of social problems.

As part of the plan, over the next year 500 health workers in Queensland will be up-skilled to better identify middle ear disease.

The State Government has also set the ambitious goal of helping at least 5,000 children in the next 12 months.

Middle ear disease is one of the top 20 diseases plaguing Indigenous communities.

In contrast, it is ranked at number 81 in the list of diseases contributing the biggest burden to non-Indigenous Australians.

Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick today launched the State Government’s new Deadly Kids, Deadly Future framework.

“This is a 10-year program with 36 initiatives that hopes to eliminate middle ear problems in Indigenous children in Queensland,” he said.

“It’s focused around training more people to identify problems, so that’s training healthcare workers and educators.

“Our focus now is on early childhood education and care workers, so teachers in kindies so they can identify issues early and link into the health system.”

‘Maggots in the ears’

Tackling the problem is a passion of Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, Dr Kelvin Kong, whose speciality is ear, nose and throat.

Dr Kong recently saw an extreme example of what can happen if middle ear disease was left untreated when he treated a 49-year-old Indigenous man who was just out of prison and came to him suffering ringing in his ears.

“When I met this guy and you look in the ears there was a disease called aura myaisis, which is maggots in the ears,” he said.

“He’s had all these maggots in the ears all crawling around which had been there for a long time.

“When I actually got to talk to him, examine his ears and look at his history, his medical notes span right back to when he was 12 months old.

“We’re talking about a 49-year-old male – when you look back in his notes – represented from 12 months of age with ear disease.

“Unfortunately I think it is too late – by the time I’m seeing a patient I feel really sad because unfortunately they’ve missed it.”

Problem extends to extreme social issues

Dr Kong said it started as a health issue, but often extended to extreme social issues.

“Can’t hear, considered a naughty person in the classroom, put at the back, kicked out of classroom, didn’t get education, illiterate, innumerate, welfare dependent, social disharmony – all these things occur,” he said.

Dr Kelvin Kong said a proactive approach must extend across Australia to really make a difference.

“Every opportunity that we get to meet a child, we should be looking at ears to make sure they’re okay,” he said.

“Whether that be in the form of looking with nodoscope, hearing test, or just question – ‘how are the ears, are you worried about hearing?’ so you can refer on.”

2 comments on “NACCHO Aboriginal Ear Health #closethegap : Action to tackle Indigenous ear disease announced

  1. Thanks Col for your interesting newsletter and thanks for promoting the CTG anniversary. Rgs Tom

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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