NACCHO Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health News: Birthing service reduces preterm births by 38%

feature tile text Birthing in Our Community services reduces preterm birth rates for ATSI babies by 38%

The image in the feature tile is from an article Indigenous-led birthing program gains international recognition published in the National Indigenous Times on 1 April 2021.

The NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health News is a platform we use to showcase the important work being done in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health focusing on the work of NACCHO, NACCHO members and NACCHO affiliates.

We also share a curated selection of news stories that are of likely interest to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector, broadly.

Birthing service reduces preterm births by 38%

A birthing service established by three SE Queensland health organisations has reduced preterm birth rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies by 38% and demonstrated significant cost savings to the health system. Results published in the Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific this week highlighted improved outcomes for women having a baby through the Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) service. The reduction in preterm birth rates meant that women accessing the program required fewer costly interventions, procedures and neonatal admissions, resulting in savings of $4,810 per mother/baby pair. Additionally, the BiOC service reduced two thirds of women’s out of pocket costs by bringing the service closer to home.

The cost-effectiveness study concluded that replication of the BiOC service across Australia has the potential to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies born preterm by 965 each year, thereby potentially saving the Australian health system $86,994,021 per annum. The BiOC service and model of care was established in 2013 by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane and Mater Health in Brisbane in response to a need for women who are pregnant with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander baby to access culturally and clinically safe care throughout their pregnancy and at birth.

Ms Renee Blackman, ATSICHS Brisbane CEO, said that “the success of the BiOC service shows what can be achieved when partners work together with a shared vision and a commitment to Aboriginal-led models of care”.

You can view the medianet. article Improved birthing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families generates savings to the health system in full here and the The Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific research paper (The Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific article Birthing on country service compared to standard care for First Nations Australians: a cost-effectiveness analysis from a health system perspective) in full click here.

IUIH tile Birthing In Our Community, ATSI mum and baby

Image source: Birthing in Our Community North Facebook page.

Disproportionate impact of diabetes on mob

Diabetes WA is calling for greater recognition of the disproportionate impact of diabetes on Aboriginal Communities in WA. Aboriginal West Australians are at far greater risk of diabetes and diabetes-related complications than any other community in the State. Aboriginal West Australians are nearly 40 times more likely to have major lower limb amputation. Aboriginal people living in remote areas have 20 times the incidence of end-stage renal disease compared with the national average. Cataract and diabetic retinopathy continues to be the leading causes of vision loss in Aboriginal people in WA. The diabetes gap is also generational.  Type 2 diabetes in children, once rare, is on the rise.

Gestational diabetes, also more common in Aboriginal Communities, is the fastest growing type of diabetes in WA, with many women remaining undiagnosed while diabetes silently impacts their unborn baby. In some remote communities, 60–70% of people over the age of 65 have type 2 diabetes. Too many older Aboriginal people are living with preventable disabilities as a result of diabetes and its silent damage.

Project Lead for Diabetes WA, Natalie Jetta, is an experienced Aboriginal Health Professional. She says training Aboriginal Health Professionals will make diabetes education more accessible and more culturally safe for Aboriginal West Australians. “We know that Aboriginal Health Professionals are best placed to talk to people within their own Community, because they already have the respect, trust, knowledge and connection they need to nurture their clients,” Natalie says. “We have now trained 20 Aboriginal Health Professionals employed by the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector to deliver the Diabetes Education Self Yarning (DESY) program. This will improve the cultural security of this diabetes education program and enable it to be delivered on Country across WA.”

To view the News Medical Life Sciences article Diabetes WA calls for greater recognition of diabetes impact on Aboriginal Communities in full click here.

6 Aboriginal female graduates of the Diabetes WA Diabetes education program - Diabetes Education Self Yarning (DESY)

Graduates of the Diabetes WA Diabetes education program – Diabetes Education Self Yarning (DESY). Image source: News Medical Life Sciences.

Jury is in on vaping – time for action

The jury is in on the harms of vaping, with a new study published in the Medical Journal of Australia today providing the most comprehensive review yet on the health impacts of e-cigarettes. Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Professor Steve Robson said the findings of the study leave zero room for confusion about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping. “It’s time for stronger, strictly enforced regulations so we can avoid another public health crisis like tobacco,” Professor Robson said.

“Vaping is not harmless, it is not safe, it is not part of tobacco control. It has become a scourge in our schools, with parents and educators reporting that it has got out of hand. And we are seeing adults and children alike suffering as a result of vaping.” Risks identified in the review include addiction, poisoning, especially in small children, seizures and loss of consciousness caused by nicotine overdose, headache, cough, throat irritation, and burns and injuries, largely caused by exploding batteries.

Another major risk identified by the study was that young non-smokers who use e-cigarettes are around three times as likely to go on to smoke regular cigarettes, compared to young people who did not use e-cigarettes. “Vaping products are a gateway to smoking for young people and there are significant risks from vaping that warrant much stronger regulation. For example, we know many products marketed as not containing nicotine have been found to contain nicotine and products have also been found to contain prohibited chemicals that can cause serious harm, like vitamin E acetate and diacetyl, which can cause serious damage to the lungs.”

To view the AMA’s media release Jury is in on vaping and associated harms – time for action in full click here.

cloud of vape smoke obscuring most of man's face

Image source: ABC News.

RACGP says international medical graduates needed

As Australia’s health system faces a crisis, amid a growing shortage of GPs and mounting pressure on both primary and secondary care services, the RACGP is calling on the Federal Government to support international medical graduates (IMGs). College President Dr Nicole Higgins said the workforce shortage is a significant part of the crisis, and that it is widespread, from general practice to pharmacy and nursing.

She said IMGs could help to address the issue in the short-term, and that many are eager to work in Australia, but are being held back and becoming disillusioned by red tape and a lack of support. “Rural and remote communities are particularly affected,” Dr Higgins said. “But there is a simple solution to boost the number of GPs in the short-term: we can and should be doing much more to attract IMGs to Australia, and to support and retain them as valuable community members. This includes cutting red tape and making the application process easier for doctors who want to work in areas of need.”

To view the RACGP newsGP article IMGs a ‘simple solution’ to boost GP numbers: RACGP in full click here.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins says barriers to overseas doctors wanting to work in Australia make no sense amid crisis. Photo: Jono Searle/AAP Photos. Image source: Bunbury Mail.

Sector Jobs

Sector Jobs – you can see sector job listings on the NACCHO website here.

Advertising Jobs – to advertise a job vacancy click here to go to the NACCHO website Current job listings webpage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a Post A Job form. You can complete this form with your job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles, says every year in March, Australians come together to mark Harmony Week, culminating in the observance of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the 21 March. Australia is one of the world’s most successful multicultural nations. We are home to the world’s oldest continuous cultures as well as migrants from nearly 200 countries.

This week schools, workplaces and community groups will reflect on this diversity by participating in events across the country and nearly 7000 people from more than 120 countries will become new citizens. Multiculturalism is integral to our national identity- but we cannot take it for granted. This International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination marks 75 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and focuses on the urgent need to combat racism and racial discrimination.

To view Minister Giles’ media release Harmony Week and International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in full click here. You can find more information about International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the United Nations website here.

tile text International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination March 21

Image source: Ontario Nurses’ Association website 14 March 2023.

World Down Syndrome Day

Today, Tuesday 21 March 2023, is World Down Syndrome Day. World Down Syndrome Day aims to celebrate the progress that has been made over the last 50 years and, in particular, over the last 10 years. Progress is often made in small steps, sometimes pausing to review our journey, but always aware of how far we have come and the difference that our small steps make to the day-to-day life of people living with disability.

As part of the worldwide celebrations, World Down Syndrome Day lights up buildings of significance. This is referred to as ‘Light up a Landmark’. Buildings that have been lit up previously, include: Palais des Nation – UN Geneva; The Empire State Building – NY; Eiffel Tower – Paris; Tower 42 – London and Belfast City Hall – Ireland. Once the buildings are lit up, images are taken and shared on Social Media to build awareness and engagement throughout the world. This year the iconic Canberra Grammar School Quad will be the first in Australia to take part in this international event!

Dietitians Week 20–26 March 2023

Today is Day 2 of Dietitians Week 2023. When it comes to managing health through food and nutrition, a dietitian should be your first port of call. Ongoing and specialised education ensures dietitians are the reliable choice for life-changing food and nutrition support. Because we all have our own unique goals, challenges and lifestyles, Accredited Practising Dietitians understand that our health is not a one-size fits all approach. They are trained to offer personalised health advice that is fine-tuned to a person’s specific needs.  Dietitians Australia has an Indigenous nutrition role statement, available here, which listed the knowledge and skills of an APD working in the area of Indigenous nutrition.

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