NACCHO #closethegap : AHHA Close the Gap Day a reminder of how far we must go for health equity

MC AHHA

Close the Gap Day is a reminder for the entire healthcare sector about how far we still have to go to remove health inequalities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and other Australians,”

The AHHA is proud to support organisations that work to close the gap. We recently signed an agreement with Australia’s national peak body representing over 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

This has brought together the experiences of health service providers that work in the public and not-for-profit health sector across Australia and local Aboriginal controlled health organisations working in local communities .

Through this agreement we can be a more effective united voice in speaking together to improve the design and delivery of health services for Aboriginal peoples “

AHHA Acting Chief Executive Dr Linc Thurecht

Australia’s biggest Aboriginal health and public healthcare and hospitals bodies recently signed a national agreement to work together to close the gap in Aboriginal health.

Photo above Chairpersons Dr Paul Dugdale (AHHA) and Matthew Cooke (NACCHO)

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has urged health leaders and organisations around the country to pledge their commitment to work with community leaders to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, on Close the Gap Day 2016.

“Close the Gap Day is a reminder for the entire healthcare sector about how far we still have to go to remove health inequalities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and other Australians,” AHHA Acting Chief Executive Dr Linc Thurecht said.

“To close the gap by the original target date of 2030 is ambitious but remains achievable. There have been improvements in some areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health since the campaign was launched in 2006, but these gains must be built on every year. Meeting many of the Close the Gap targets remains a significant challenge.”

The AHHA urges health leaders and governments to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to ensure all initiatives to improve health equality are best practice, well targeted and culturally appropriate.

“It is essential to remind the Commonwealth, state and territory governments that closing the gap must remain a national priority,” Dr Thurecht said.

Improving chronic disease and primary care outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needs to be among the top priorities for the immediate future, Close the Gap co-chair Mick Gooda told AHHA in the February edition of its bi-monthly magazine The Health Advocate, which was themed around Close the Gap initiatives.

“The key to improving chronic disease outcomes is to increase rates of early detection and treatment. This involves not only increasing awareness and health literacy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but also ensuring they have access to quality health services,” Dr Thurecht said.

“Let’s support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in improving on the health gains made in the past 10 years to ensure any Australian, no matter their background, can enjoy the same expectations of a long and healthy life.”

Hospitals must change to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

The latest Issues Brief from the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research Summer Scholarship Program has outlined the need for institutional change in hospitals to reduce rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients discharging against medical advice (DAMA).

The Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research Issues Brief, An evidence-based approach to reducing discharge against medical advice amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients by Summer Scholar Caitlin Shaw from James Cook University, explored the causes of higher rates of DAMA among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in rural and remote areas.

The Issues Brief found the current high levels of DAMA suggested acute care settings such as hospitals are not effectively addressing the concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in order to keep them engaged in care for the duration of their treatment.

The literature review found a number of contributory factors associated with DAMA among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Significant factors included a lack of cultural safety, a distrust of the health system, institutionalised racism, miscommunication, family and social obligations, and isolation and loneliness.

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