NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Mob may miss crucial COVID-19 treatment

Mob may miss crucial COVID-19 treatment 

A health expert warns Indigenous people infected with COVID-19 may be missing out on crucial treatment, as reporting systems struggle to keep up with soaring case numbers.

Jason Agostino, medical adviser to NACCHO, said First Nations people had been more likely to be infected, and more likely to develop a severe illness, throughout the pandemic.

“If we look at infections in NSW and the ACT, almost one in 10 people who were infected through Delta were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. When we look at severity in each age group, Aboriginal people were more likely to be hospitalised or end up in ICU.”

But Dr Agostino said since Omicron has taken hold, health authorities no longer had a clear picture of how Indigenous people were being impacted.

To view the ABC News article in full click here.

Floralita Billy-Whap gets vaccinated on the island of Poruma in the Torres Strait

Floralita Billy-Whap gets vaccinated on the island of Poruma in the Torres Strait. Photo supplied by: Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service. Image source: ABC News.

$24m for temporary Telehealth changes

Following a meeting with senior representatives of the five peak general practice organisations, including NACCHO, the Australian Government has committed an additional $24 million to make temporary changes to Telehealth to give GPs and specialists additional flexibility to support their patients safely, including the continued supply of PPE and online support.

Telehealth has been a vital support during the pandemic providing greater flexibility in healthcare delivery at the most critical time and it continues to be a fundamental part of the pandemic response.

The Government will introduce temporary specialist inpatient telehealth MBS items (video and phone) and initial and complex specialist telephone consultation items, and longer telephone consultations for GP’s (level C) until 30 June 2022.

These services will be made available nationally rather than targeted to Commonwealth-declared hotspots as they were previously, recognising the high infection rate and need to provide healthcare support across the community.

Enabling specialist medical practitioners to provide telehealth consultations to hospital in-patients as a temporary measure will support continuity of care for patients when their doctor cannot attend the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions.

To view Minister Hunt’s media release in full click here.

Image source: mivision.

When COVID-19 hits low vax town

The Indigenous community of Cherbourg in Queensland kept COVID-19 at bay for nearly two years. But in just two weeks, one in 10 people contracted the virus. SBS News travelled to the town to see how the outbreak is being managed in a vulnerable community.

On the outskirts of Cherbourg cemetery sits an unmarked mass grave. It is said to be the resting place of around 90 Indigenous residents who died during the Spanish flu outbreak just over a century ago.

The small regional town – formerly known as Barambah – was hit disproportionately hard in 1919 when the virus made its way into the community. Within three weeks, one-sixth of the population would die.

100 years on and the existence of the mass burial site acts as a stark warning for the approximately 1,500 residents as the town battles an eerily similar threat: COVID-19.

“We don’t want history to repeat itself and that’s why we’re working very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen,” mayor Elvie Sandow says.

To view the SBS News article in full click here.

Cherbourg is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. Image source: SBS News.

Calls for patient-centred care investment

The RACGP has called on the federal investment to improve patient-centred care The college has put forward a series of reforms to ensure general practice can continue to meet patients’ needs and offer quality care, while saving the healthcare system at least $1 billion each year.

As COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise in Australia, health systems across the country are buckling under the pressure, with thousands of people being admitted to hospital and hundreds of thousands more being managed in the community.

RACGP President Dr Karen Price said the pandemic has both exacerbated and highlighted the cracks in Australia’s health system, and that GPs should be adequately remunerated for managing a growing number of complex presentations.

‘General practice is at the forefront of prevention and chronic disease management, [but] more Commonwealth investment is needed to deliver on this vital role,’ Dr Price said. ‘We want time to care for our patients [and] we want longer consults rewarded at the same value as shorter consults.

To read the GPNews article in full click here.

Image source: NT PHN.

‘Looking Deadly’ Eye Health Training

An eye health training program for primary health care personnel, especially Aboriginal health practitioners, has been launched by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and the Vision Initiative (Victoria’s eye health promotion program).

‘Looking Deadly’ is a self-paced, online module that covers some elements of the VET accredited unit HLTAHW030 – Provide information and strategies in eye health (Release 2). The content has been specially designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in mind.

For further information on the training click here.

Artwork Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs - features Aboriginal hands & eye

Artwork by respected Wiradjuri / Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Briggs, originally commissioned for VACCHO’s first eye health program, 1998. Image source: University of Melbourne.

Sickly Sweet soft drink campaign launched

A new social media campaign to educate Australians about the health risks of drinking sugar-laden drinks has been launched.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the #SicklySweet campaign is a creative, highly visual campaign which turns the tables on sophisticated soft drink ads, directed at young people each summer. “The campaign asks us to think about how much sugar we consume,” he said.

“It may come as a surprise to many Australians that there are eight to 12 teaspoons of sugar in an average 375ml can of soft drink. It is, however, no surprise these drinks are contributing to obesity and preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.”

Dr Khorshid said Australian’s drink at least 2.4 billion litres of sugary drinks every year, with young males the biggest consumers. It’s a staggering figure, and we think Aussies need to know what they are consuming and the impact it can have on their long-term health,” he said.

“Sugary drinks used to be a special treat, but they’re now an every-day product, bringing addiction, and major health problems.” Dr Khorshid said with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing it was important not to overlook other major health issues facing the nation.

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

banner text 'Sickly Sweet - sugary drinks are making us sick. It's time that we do something about it' & soft drink bottle, black liquid, red label with white font words Sickly Sweet' yellow background

Rural and remote student dentistry grants

Two critical issues in Australian dentistry include the prevalence of oral disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and the challenge of delivering viable dental care outside of major population centres. Coupled with the recent challenges of COVID-19 and its associated financial hardships, many dental students particularly in rural and remote areas are struggling.

The Australian Dental Association recognises this and has two grants to assist students who are studying to become registered dentists.

For more information about the grants and to apply click here.

Bachelor of Oral Health student Caitlin Wilkie checks a young boy’s teeth. Image source: University of Melbourne.

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.