“With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians still 20 times more likely to die from RHD, the AMA’s call for firm targets and a comprehensive and consultative strategy is welcome. We encourage governments to adopt these recommendations immediately.
“As noted by the AMA, it is absolutely critical that governments work in close partnership with Aboriginal health bodies. Without strong community controlled health services, achieving these targets for reducing RHD will be impossible.
While this is a long term challenge, the human impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are being felt deeply right now. Action is required urgently.
NACCHO is standing ready to work with the AMA and governments to develop and implement these measures. We have to work together and we have to do it now.”
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson Matthew Cooke pictured above at Danila Dilba Health Service NT with AMA President Dr Michael Gannon (right ) and the Hon Warren Snowdon MP Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health (left )
” RHD, which starts out with seemingly innocuous symptoms such as a sore throat or a skin infection, but leads to heart damage, stroke, disability, and premature death, could be eradicated in Australia within 15 years if all governments adopted the recommendations of the latest AMA Indigenous Health Report Card.
AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon see full AMA Press Release below
” We have many of the answers, we just need commitment from Govt to help implement necessary changes ”
Ms Olga Havnen is the CEO of Danila Dilba Biluru Binnilutlum Health Service in Darwin
NACCHO Press Release
The peak Aboriginal health organisation today welcomed the release of the Australian Medical Association’s Report Card on Indigenous Health as a timely reminder of the importance of community controlled services.
The 2016 Report Card on Indigenous Health focuses on the enormous impact that Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is having on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia with a ‘Call to Action to Prevent New Cases of RHD in in Indigenous Australia by 2031’.
DOWNLOAD the Report Card here :
AMA RELEASES PLAN TO ERADICATE RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE (RHD) BY 2031
AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2016: A call to action to prevent new cases of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Indigenous Australia by 2031
The AMA today called on all Australian governments and other stakeholders to work together to eradicate Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) – an entirely preventable but devastating disease that kills and disables hundreds of Indigenous Australians every year – by 2031.
AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said today that RHD, which starts out with seemingly innocuous symptoms such as a sore throat or a skin infection, but leads to heart damage, stroke, disability, and premature death, could be eradicated in Australia within 15 years if all governments adopted the recommendations of the latest AMA Indigenous Health Report Card.
The 2016 Report Card – A call to action to prevent new cases of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Indigenous Australia by 2031 – was launched at Danila Dilba Darwin Friday 25 November
Dr Gannon said the lack of effective action on RHD to date was a national failure, and an urgent coordinated approach was needed.
“RHD once thrived in inner-city slums, but had been consigned to history for most Australians,” Dr Gannon said.
“RHD is a disease of poverty, and it is preventable, yet it is still devastating lives and killing many people here in Australia – one of the world’s wealthiest countries.
“In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of RHD in the world, almost exclusively localised to Indigenous communities.
“Indigenous Australians are 20 times more likely to die from RHD than their non-Indigenous peers – and, in some areas, such as in the Northern Territory, this rate rises to 55 times higher.
“These high rates speak volumes about the fundamental underlying causes of RHD, particularly in remote areas – poverty, housing, education, and inadequate primary health care.
“The necessary knowledge to address RHD has been around for many decades, but action to date has been totally inadequate.
“The lack of action on an appropriate scale is symptomatic of a national failure. With this Report Card, the AMA calls on all Australian governments to stop new cases of RHD from occurring.”
RHD begins with infection by Group A Streptococcal (Strep A) bacteria, which is often associated with overcrowded and unhygienic housing.
It often shows up as a sore throat or impetigo (school sores). But as the immune system responds to the Strep A infection, people develop Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF), which can result in damage to the heart valves – RHD – particularly when a person is reinfected multiple times.
RHD causes strokes in teenagers, and leads to children needing open heart surgery, and lifelong medication.
In 2015, almost 6,000 Australians – the vast majority Indigenous – were known to have experienced ARF or have RHD.
From 2010-2013, there were 743 new or recurrent cases of RHD nationwide, of which 94 per cent were in Indigenous Australians. More than half (52 per cent) were in Indigenous children aged 5-14 years, and 27 per cent were among those aged 15-24 years.
“We know the conditions that give rise to RHD, and we know how to address it,” Dr Gannon said.
“What we need now is the political will to prevent it – to improve the overcrowded and unhygienic conditions in which Strep A thrives and spreads; to educate Indigenous communities about these bacterial infections; to train doctors to rapidly and accurately detect Strep A, ARF, and RHD; and to provide culturally safe primary health care to communities.”
The AMA Report Card on Indigenous Health 2016 calls on Australian governments to:
Commit to a target to prevent new cases of RHD among Indigenous Australians by 2031, with a sub-target that, by 2025, no child in Australia dies of ARF or its complications; and
Work in partnership with Indigenous health bodies, experts, and key stakeholders to develop, fully fund, and implement a strategy to end RHD as a public health problem in Australia by 2031.
“The End Rheumatic Heart Disease Centre of Research Excellence (END RHD CRC) is due to report in 2020 with the basis for a comprehensive strategy to end RHD as a public health problem in Australia,” Dr Gannon said.
“We need an interim strategy in place from now until 2021, followed by a comprehensive 10-year strategy to implement the END RHD CRC’s plan from 2021 to 2031.
“We urge our political leaders at all levels of government to take note of this Report Card, and to be motivated to act to solve this problem.”
The AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2016 is available at https://ama.com.au/article/2016-ama-report-card-indigenous-health-call-action-prevent-new-cases-rheumatic-heart-disease
TIME TO TAKE HEART
Labor calls on the Turnbull government to take heart and address Rheumatic Heart Disease, an entirely preventable public health problem which is almost exclusively affecting First Nation Peoples.
Labor welcomes the release of the Australian Medical Association’s 2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Report Card, A Call To Action To Prevent New Cases Of Rheumatic Heart Disease In Indigenous Australian By 2031.
Poor environmental health conditions, like overcrowded housing remain rampant in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, devastating families and the lives of young people.
“As the AMA’s report card suggests, we must build on the success of the 2009 Commonwealth Government Rheumatic Fever strategy, established to improve the detection and monitoring of Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease.
Funding under the Rheumatic Fever strategy is uncertain after this financial year,” Ms King said.
The Productivity Commission’s report Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage [OID] released last week found 49.4% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote communities live in overcrowded housing. Additionally, the report details no significant improvement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples access to clean water, functional sewerage and electricity.
“We know Rheumatic Heart Disease is a disease of poverty and social disadvantage, which is absolutely preventable. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, especially in the Top End of the Northern Territory, suffer the highest rates of definite Rheumatic Heart Disease,” Mr Snowdon said.
Labor applauds the work of the Take Heart Australia awareness campaign, and their work to educate and advocate putting Rheumatic Heart Diseases on the public health agenda.
“Like always, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities need to be front and centre in taking action. The most positive outcomes will come through communities working with Aboriginal and Community Control Health Organisations to design and deliver programs tailored to their needs,” Senator Dodson said.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 noted more than three years ago the association of RHD with ‘extremes of poverty and marginalisation’, these conditions remain and are almost exclusively diseases of Indigenous Australia.
If we are serious about closing the gap, we must take heart, and address this burden of Rheumatic Heart Disease facing First Nation Peoples.
ACTION TO END RHEUMATIC HEART DISEASE (RHD) IN 15YRS
The Heart Foundation has today supported the Australian Medical Association (AMA) call for governments to work together to eliminate Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in 15 years, by 2031.
Heart Foundation National CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly (AM) said RHD was an avoidable but widespread disease that kills and harms hundreds of Indigenous Australians every year.
“Considering how preventable RHD is, it is a national shame that our Indigenous population are left languishing.
“The Heart Foundation has strongly advocated from the RHD strategy. We continue to call on the government to fund the National Partnership Agreement on Rheumatic fever strategy and Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia (RHD Australia) with a $10 million over 3 years’ commitment, “Adj Prof Kelly said.
With the AMA predicting that RHD could be eradicated in Australia within 15 years if all governments adopted its recommendations, the time to act is now.
“We need to boost funding for the national rheumatic fever strategy. New Zealand is allocating $65 million over 10 years. A robust approach can put an end to RHD as a public health issue within 15 years,” Adj Prof Kelly said.
This call to action was part of the release of the AMA’s 2016 Indigenous Report Card – A call to action to prevent new cases of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Indigenous Australia by 2031.
“We want a strong and robust strategy to tackle this challenge. We will be working with the AMA to support and advocate for these recommendations which include:
- A commitment to a target to prevent new cases of RHD among Indigenous Australians by 2031, with a sub-target that, by 2025, no child in Australia dies of ARF or its complications; and
- Working in partnership with Indigenous health bodies, experts, and key stakeholders
- to develop, fully fund, and implement a strategy to end RHD as a public health problem in Australia by 2031.