NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Maningrida mob show up in record numbers for COVID-19 vaccine

feature tile text 'Record numbers of Maningrida mob show up for jab after community-led campaigns' & Aboriginal hand holding loud speaker out of bus window

Maningrida mob show up in record numbers for COVID-19 vaccine

Maningrida, NT is home to over 2,300 people, with 77% of those identifying as Aboriginal (Source: 2016 ABS Census). It is estimated the population has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people moving to the region in 2020-21, with the current population estimated to be close to 4,000.

Maningrida’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout made national news headlines recently after record numbers showed up to get their Pfizer vaccines.

A total of three COVID-19 Vaccination drives were held from July-September, administering a total of 2,843 vaccine doses to the Maningrida community, representing well over 70% of all eligible community members aged 16 and over receiving their first dose and almost 45% fully vaccinated.

The successful rollout comes after weeks of community-led campaigning by Mala’la Health Service, Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs), Traditional Owners, community leaders and multiple agencies working together to build community confidence about the vaccine.

Mala’la took to dispelling COVID-19 vaccination myths, using their social media platform, local presence and Elders to spread the message. These were both in English and local Aboriginal languages.

The most important thing made clear from the community leaders was the need to ‘talk straight’ and ‘our way’ to the community, stating that mainstream campaigns were confusing and would not work.

  • With the support of local businesses and organisations, Mala’la were able to set up COVID-19 Vaccine info desks at the local supermarket, mobile community info sessions with Orange Sky Laundry van service and hold meetings with local business staff.
  • Local community videos were broadcast in multiple languages online and on large screens, community workers went door to door to talk with families and multiple information sessions were held to address community concerns.
  • When the vaccines arrived, the community leaders were among the first to get the vaccines including, the local Mayor, Traditional Owners and AHWs.
  • Mala’la organised a number of COVID-19 vaccination drives, engaging the support of NT Bush Bus, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation and Northern Land Council to support pickup and drop off community members who would otherwise be unable to attend.

Chairman of the Mala’la Health Service, Charlie Gunabarra, was the first in line to get the vaccine to huge cheers. “This is a serious thing all over the world.  We’ve got eight language groups here and we have culture and family to look after. It’s important to get that vaccine to protect our Songlines”, said Gunabarra.

On the vaccination days, campaigning continued non-stop with Traditional Owners on megaphones encouraging the community to get the vaccine. In the second round, Maningrida broke its own previous NT record administering 467 vaccines on a single day – the highest in any single vaccine hub in the Territory at that time.

To support this strong uptake, it took culturally appropriate, community-led approach to engage with community and get the right COVID-19 vaccine messaging across. It took the culmination of engaging local Elders and community leaders, other local organisations getting on board to support Mala’la staff to get the messaging across and the health departments allowing Mala’la to administer these vaccines.

billboard on truck, Elder with loudspeaker, male & female Elders getting vax

Images of Maningrida COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

ACCHO to open new Gympie AMS

The North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health (NCACCH) held a series of community consultation sessions this month seeking feedback for their new Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) delivery. Sessions were held in Gympie, Tin Can Bay, Kilkivan and Gunalda outlining plans for the Aboriginal Medical Centre currently being fitted out at 31 Excelsior Road, Gympie.

The centre will be available to all people who identify as Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander and their families (including non-Indigenous partners, children, the whole family unit). The AMS will have an holistic approach and be a ‘one stop shop’ for patients offering comprehensive free health checks and medical services.

The money for the building fit out was raised by a successful grant and directors hope the centre will be finished by mid to late October, with a soft opening later this year and an official launch opening in February 2022.

Chairperson and director of NCACCH Helen Felstead said it was proud of the facility and the work being done to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders get the medical help they need in our region. “Prior to now, all patients had to travel to the Sunshine Coast for specialist health care. This is an extension to what we have, nothing will change, it’s just a better service and it’s local. The hospital will still have services as with other practices, we are just making it easier and providing patients with choices.”

To view the story in full click here.

NCACCH building being fitted out for new Gympie AMS

Image source: NCACCH website.

First Nations CVD rate is twice as bad

The rate of Cardiovascular disease (CVD) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is more than twice that of non-Indigenous people according to a recently released Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, released on today (Wednesday 29 September) to coincide with World Heart Day, looks at a range of data, including Australian Bureau of Statistics health surveys.

It estimates 42,700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults had heart, stroke and vascular disease in 2018-19, based on self-reported data from the ABS. It equates to a rate of 11.4% of Australia’s adult Indigenous population, more than twice that of non-Indigenous adults (5.4%), the report concluded. The rate of death from heart disease from 2017-19 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1.8 times greater than non-Indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to be exposed to several risk factors. Indigenous Australians aged over 15 were more than three times more likely to smoke daily and were more likely to have high blood pressure in 2017-18 (37 to 29%).

To view the article in full click here.

Aboriginal man's hands gripping chest - heart

Image source: The Medical Journal of Australia.

SA’s ‘silent’ health epidemic

While the nation focuses on the COVID pandemic, a “silent” epidemic is afflicting SA – with huge implications for individuals and hospitals. The figures are stark.

A concerning 6.4% of South Australians are diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 5.3% nationally – and in some regions it’s above 10% – according to the latest figures from Diabetes Australia. That’s more than 113,000 South Australians – a significant jump from 5.8% of the population diagnosed just six years ago.

Most are afflicted with the largely-preventable, lifestyle-related Type 2 disease. Diabetes is a leading cause of hospitalisation. Over time, high glucose levels damage the body’s blood vessels and nerves, leading to a raft of serious health problems such as heart, kidney and eye disease, and even limb amputations from ulcers.

What frustrates health professionals is it doesn’t have to be this way, yet SA continues to top the nation in its prevalence of the disease. And there are warnings the actual rate – including in those who don’t yet know they have it – is up to twice the recorded level.

Researchers and doctors say younger people are increasingly affected by this chronic condition because of sedentary lifestyles and poor diets. They’re calling for urgent and radical intervention, declaring the issue is much bigger than the already disturbing official figures show.

To read the article in full click here.

person's hands drawing insulin shot

An insulin shot. Photo: John Locher, AP. Image source: INDAILY Adelaide independent news.

Rap message about the vax

Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative have produced an awesome jab rap to encourage mob to get vaccinated. You can view the rap below:

Smoker rates surge during pandemic

Smoker numbers have increased across Australia since the beginning of the pandemic, with data released by  SiSU Health showing the greatest percentage jumps in the ACT (up 3.9%) and Queensland.

Increases occurred across all age groups following the arrival of COVID-19, with the rate amongst 65 to 74 year olds nearly doubling since before the pandemic. Smoking levels are markedly higher in regional and remote areas  than in cities, while ATSIC rates are stubbornly high at 3 times the rate of non-indigenous Australians.

SiSU Health Managing Director Dr Noel Duncan said: “Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one killer,  with heart disease and stroke claiming 18.6 million lives each year. But many of the risk factors, such as tobacco  use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity, are within our control to change.”

“We detected a sharp jump in our users’ smoking rates at the very onset of the pandemic. These rates have  tapered only slightly in 2021 and remain more than two percentage points higher than in the period prior to COVID.  The reasons for this upswing are complex, but stress and anxiety associated with lockdowns, often in combination  with more frequent alcohol consumption at home, are likely to be contributing factors.”

To view the article in full click here.

pack of cigarettes, no brand

Image source: SBS News website.

AMA wants easier rural GP hospital access

The AMA is calling for easier pathways for rural doctors to work in their local hospitals and better support remote, regional and rural health in the community. Examining rural workforce shortages, the AMA has found stringent bureaucratic processes by local hospitals or health services prevent some rural GPs and rural generalists from having any connection or involvement whatsoever in their local hospitals.

In a new AMA Position Statement on integrating GPs into rural hospitals, the AMA makes a series of recommendations addressing doctor shortages in rural areas, with benefits to local hospitals, better health care for regional communities and which contribute to a more viable sustainable career for rural GPs.

To view the AMA’s media release click here.

road sign with text 'hospital' against rural scene - wheat field, blue sky

Image source: Healthcare IT.

Stronger patient medicine involvement

Consumer involvement in Australia’s medicines choices has been further strengthened under a new strategic agreement Medicines Australia has signed with the Federal Government. The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has welcomed the acknowledgement in the agreement that the Government and Medicines Australia have a common interest in patients having improved involvement in the decision-making for medicines access, the CEO of CHF, Leanne Wells, said today.

“We welcome the statement by Medicines Australia that the agreement heralds a new era by securing stronger patient involvement in critical processes and ensuring Australia keeps pace with access to rapidly transforming medical advancements developed around the world. This agreement also provides for more certainty of Government funding for new drugs. This is vital for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme which aims at ensuring all Australians have affordable access to quality medication.

“The agreement means patients will have a role in the first independent review of Australia’s health technology assessment system in nearly 30 years. As well the agreement provides for a new process to incorporate patients’ views and experiences early in the processes of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) which recommends to Government what new drugs should be subsidised.”

To view the CHF’s media release in full click here.

multiple tablet foil blister packs

Image source: Healthline website.

New process for job advertising

NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.

Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.
dice spelling JOBS resting on keyboard

COVID-19 vaccine update for GPs webinar

The latest in the Australian Government Department of Health’s series of COVID-19 vaccine updates for GPs webinar will be held from:

11:30am–12:00pm (AEST) tomorrow, Thursday 30 September 2021.

At this webinar, you’ll be provided with the latest information on the vaccine rollout. GPs and all health professionals are welcome.

Joining Professor Michael Kidd AM this week will be Dr Lucas de Toca, First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Department of Health and Julie Tonga AOM, CEO, Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal and Community Services, Narrabundah, Canberra.

This week’s GP webinar will have a slightly different look and feel as it will be held via webex. This will enable guests from other locations to join the GP webinar panel. If you’re unable to view this webinar live, you can view it on-demand using the same link, within a few hours of the live stream ending.

When you’re ready to join, use this link.