NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: World Heart Day – NACCHO calls for RHD action

RHD call to action on World Heart Day

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is marking this World Heart Day with a call to action to oversee the implementation of the rheumatic heart disease (RHD) Endgame Strategy to end the high prevalence of RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The ‘RHD Endgame Strategy: the blueprint to eliminate rheumatic heart disease in Australia by 2031’ was launched by The Hon. Greg Hunt, MP, Minister for Health, alongside Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM, senior author of the Strategy and Ms Pat Turner AM, CEO of NACCHO on Thursday, 24 September 2020.

Over 5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are living with the effects of acute rheumatic fever, the precursor to RHD, or have RHD. If action is not taken now, it is estimated another 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will develop ARF or RHD, in the next ten years. Pat Turner announced, “98% of people who get RHD are our people. I call for that cycle of infection, disease, and tremendous sadness to end.  We know what needs to be done, and we know that it can be done. Our shared vision is that no child born in Australia from this day forward dies of RHD.”

To view the NACCHO media statement click here.

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

NACCHO Aboriginal Health News: Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

Feature tile - Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Halls Creek leaders recall day COVID-19 came to town

When coronavirus came to the small outback town of Halls Creek in WA it was “like a bomb went off”, according to Brenda Garstone, CEO of the Yura Yungi Aboriginal Medical Service. “We all had to run for cover,” she said. “We were scrambling. We didn’t know where to go, or what to do.” The WA Department of Health had warned that any community transmission in towns with remote communities would be devastating for the populations. When four healthcare workers at the local Halls Creek hospital returned positive tests, all at once, residents refused to attend the healthcare clinic for fear of picking up the virus, local shops emptied and Aboriginal men from the town’s night patrol went door to door, trying to communicate the seriousness of what was unfolding. While the outbreak was quickly contained, tensions in the small town have still not eased, with the community now fully aware of the threat COVID-19 poses.

To view the full article click here.

Halls Creek 'Heart of Gold' town entry sign

Image source: ABC News website.

Groundbreaking FASD diagnostic framework

Long wait times and centralised specialist doctors have left families in rural and remote areas waiting up to three years for a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). But now a group of doctors, academics and Indigenous elders have come together in north-west Queensland to create a unique diagnostic tier system for the disorder. Local Indigenous leaders and Mount Isa rural doctor Marjad Page, a Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Ganggalidda man, wrote a dreamtime story to explain not only the disorder but the medical process to local Indigenous families. “The program is run from the Aboriginal medical service here in Mount Isa called Gidgee Healing, so it’s run out of a culturally appropriate medical service for the region,” Dr Page said.

To read the full article click here.

Gidgee Healing Dr Marjad Page portrait photo & Gidgee Healing logo

Dr Marjad Page. Image source: ABC News – ABC North West Queensland.

Six steps to stopping germs video launch

Australia is the only developed country still with high levels of trachoma and almost all cases occur in  remote Aboriginal communities. The Ending Trachoma project, which is run out of the Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA at Curtin University, aims to reduce the incidence of trachoma and skin infections in ‘trachoma at risk’ Aboriginal communities in remote WA through implementing environmental health strategies. They have developed a short video (see below) showing the importance of personal hygiene using ‘Milpa’s Six Steps to Stop Germs’ message. The video features women from the Nollamarra Football Team together with their children. It was developed by the Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne, with extensive input from Aboriginal community members and services in WA, SA and the NT. The message aims to encourage everyone, particularly kids, to stay healthy and strong and eliminate trachoma and other infectious diseases through following six steps.

For more information about the project click here.

COVID-19 offers unexpected opportunity to quit smoking

Smokers are worried. A respiratory disease is running rampant across the globe and people with unhealthy lifestyle habits appear to be especially vulnerable. Smokers hospitalised with COVID-19 are more likely to become severely unwell and die than non-smokers with the disease. At any point in time, most smokers want to quit. But COVID-19 provides the impetus to do it sooner rather than later. A recent study has found the proportion intending to quit within the next two weeks almost tripled from around 10% of smokers before COVID-19 to almost 30% in April. This heightened interest in quitting in the face of COVID-19 represents a unique opportunity for governments and health agencies to help smokers quit, and stay off smoking for good.

To view the full article in The Conversation click here.

two hands breaking cigarette in half

Image source: The Conversation.

Adolescent “never smoked” rate rises

Using data from the Australian Secondary School Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey, a Prevention Centre PhD project led by Christina Heris found that the proportion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents who have never smoked rose from 49% in 2005 to 70% in 2017. Additionally, rates of low smoking intensity increased by 10% from 67% in 2005 to 77 % in 2017 meaning that, overall, the number of cigarettes smoked in a day has decreased amongst smokers in the 12–17 age group.

Prevention Centre investigator Professor Sandra Eades, a Noongar woman, who supervised Christina’s project said “It’s fantastic to see that tobacco control is working for all students, including driving down rates among Aboriginal young people. But we know that young Aboriginal people experience more of the risk factors for smoking such as stress, racism and disadvantage. There is a need for governments to address these broader determinants.”

To view the full article click here.

Aboriginal child holding & looking atan unlit cigarette

Image source: Deadly Vibe.

Original articles sought for inaugural HealthBulletin

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is welcoming submissions from researchers, practitioners and health workers of original articles (not published elsewhere) for inclusion in their inaugural edition of the next generation of the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin. They are seeking submissions that provide examples of research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, including policies, strategies and programs that have the potential to inform and support everyday practice.

For further information about how to submit papers click here.

Australian Indigenous HealthInforNet HealthBulletin Call for papers banner

Image source: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website.

National COVID-19 healthcare worker guidelines

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher prevalence of respiratory conditions, many of which share symptoms with COVID-19. Healthcare workers examining a patient with respiratory symptoms are at risk of spreading infection between patients with the highest risk of transmission likely during throat and nose examination including when a swab is being collected.

Griffith University researchers have helped develop national guidelines to minimise healthcare workers’ risk of acquiring and spreading infection while examining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients with respiratory symptoms. “These new guidelines aim to provide resources and support healthcare teams in prevention and management of COVID-19,’’ said Associate Professor Jing Sun from the School of Medicine who led the project.

For more information about the new national guidelines click here.

health professional in PPE removing swab from text tube

Image source: Flinders University website.

PPE innovation needed in remote health services

Clinicians, service providers and researchers have issued an urgent call for an Australian innovation in personal protective equipment (PPE) –  the ventilated hood – to be made available to remote health services, saying that without the hoods, the risk of coronavirus transmission within remote healthcare services and communities is grave.

To read the full article click here.

woman in hospitals bed under COVID-19 hood

Image source: Sydney Morning Herald.

JT Academy offers free employment advertising

Lendlease and JT Academy are encouraging all local employers to utilise the JT Academy FREE employment functions and resources. All you need to do is send the details of any job vacancies you have and let them help you find the best candidates – they will advertise your vacancy on their fully functioning job board for free!

This unique collaborative employment initiative, directed by Managing Director, Johnathan Thurston is fast becoming one the most ambitious employment initiatives Far North Queensland has ever seen. It harnesses the unique strengths of both Lendlease and JT Academy, who together are striving to provide direct job opportunities for local jobseekers.

For more information visit the JT Academy website here.

Jonathan Thurston in suit smiling, Job Board advertisement

Image source: Twitter #jtacademy.

Funding still required for rehab services

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation Inc Chairperson Ray Harris and CEO Daniel Jeffries have doubled down on the need for more funding to be made available for rehab services, saying revenue streams remained of concern with no additional recurrent funding available for rehab services. The Weigelli Centre and other services across the sector need additional funding to address the increasing need for drug and alcohol treatment services. The continuing challenges remain for services to provide support and assistance to Aboriginal individuals, families and their communities.

To read the full article in the Cowra Guardian click here.

Weigelli Centre Aboriginal Corporation metal sign

Image source: Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW website.

CHF Big Ideas Competition

Do you have an idea which is going to change the way healthcare is delivered?

What about an idea which will transform how the health system works?

Consumers Health Forum (CHF) of Australia is invites you to send in videos of your ideas for innovation in health, to be part of the Big Ideas Forum at their Australian and NZ Shifting Gears Summit in March 2021. Your big idea could be something totally new, or it might be an example of something that has worked well in your community that could be expanded or tried in other places. You may like to base your idea on one or more of the key shifts highlighted in CHF’s 2018 White Paper Shifting Gears: Consumers Transforming Health. To view the White Paper click here.

For more information about the CHF Big Ideas Competition click here and for details about the CHF Summit 2021 click here.

4 people, each holding speech bubbles: Big Idea, Brain Storm, Think Different, Be Creative

Image source: Consumers Health Forum of Australia website.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Research Alert : @HealthInfoNet releases Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019 social and cultural determinants, chronic conditions, health behaviours, environmental health , alcohol and other drugs

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet has released the Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019

This new plain language publication provides information for a wider (non-academic) audience and incorporates many visual elements.

The Summary is useful for health workers and those studying in the field as a quick source of general information. It provides key information regarding the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the following topics:

  • social and cultural determinants
  • chronic conditions
  • health behaviours
  • environmental health
  • alcohol and other drugs.

The Summary is based on HealthInfoNet‘s comprehensive publication Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2019. It presents statistical information from the Overview in a visual format that is quick and easy for users to digest.

The Summary is available online and in hardcopy format. Please contact HealthInfoNet by email if you wish to order a hardcopy of this Summary. Other reviews and plain language summaries are available here.

Here are the key facts

Please note in an earlier version sent out 7.00 am June 15 a computer error dropped off the last word in many sentences : these are new fixed 

Key facts

Population

  • In 2019, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 847,190.
  • In 2019, NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (the estimated population was 281,107 people, 33% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2019, NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 32% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
  • In 2016, around 37% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in major cities
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Births and pregnancy outcomes

  • In 2018, there were 21,928 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (7% of all births registered).
  • In 2018, the median age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 26.0 years.
  • In 2018, total fertility rates were 2,371 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  • In 2017, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,202 grams
  • The proportion of low birthweight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2007 and 2017 remained steady at around 13%.

Mortality

  • For 2018, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1 per 1,000.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, there was a 15% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
  • For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2015-2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 6 years for males and 75.6 years for females, around 8-9 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
  • In 2018, the median age at death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 2 years; this was an increase from 55.8 years in 2008.
  • Between 1998 and 2015, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate has more than halved (from 5 to 6.3 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were ischaemic heart disease (IHD), diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung and related cancers.
  • For 2012-2017 the maternal mortality ratio for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 27 deaths per 100,000 women who gave birth.
  • For 1998-2015, in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT there was a 32% decline in the death rate from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 0-74 years

Hospitalisation

  • In 2017-18, 9% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.6 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 49% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seperations.
  • In 2017-18, the age-standardised rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 80 per 1,000 (38 per 1,000 for chronic conditions and 13 per 1,000 for vaccine-preventable conditions).

Selected health conditions

Cardiovascular health

  • In 2018-19, around 15% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cardiovascular disease (CVD).
  • In 2018-19, nearly one quarter (23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were found to have high blood pressure.
  • For 2013-2017, in Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, there were 1,043 new rheumatic heart disease diagnoses among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, a crude rate of 50 per 100,000.
  • In 2017-18, there 14,945 hospital separations for CVD among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, representing 5.4% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital separations (excluding dialysis).
  • In 2018, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was the leading specific cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Cancer

  • In 2018-19, 1% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having cancer (males 1.2%, females 1.1%).
  • For 2010-2014, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA and the NT were lung cancer and breast (females) cancer.
  • Survival rates indicate that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, and the NT who were diagnosed with cancer between 2007 and 2014, 50% had a chance of surviving five years after diagnosis
  • In 2016-17, there 8,447 hospital separations for neoplasms2 among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2013-2017, the age-standardised mortality rate due to cancer of any type was 238 per 100,000, an increase of 5% when compared with a rate of 227 per 100,000 in 2010-2014.

Diabetes

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal people and 7.9% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes.
  • In 2015-16, there were around 2,300 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • In 2018, diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The death rate for diabetes decreased by 0% between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
  • Some data sources use term ‘neoplasm’ to describe conditions associated with abnormal growth of new tissue, commonly referred to as a Neoplasms can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) [1].

Social and emotional wellbeing

  • In 2018-19, 31% of Aboriginal and 23% of Torres Strait Islander respondents aged 18 years and over reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • In 2014-15, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and 67% of children aged 4-14 years experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months
  • In 2012-13, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
  • In 2014-15, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
  • In 2018-19, 25% of Aboriginal and 17% of Torres Strait Islander people, aged two years and over, reported having a mental and/or behavioural conditions
  • In 2018-19, anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%), followed by depression (13%).
  • In 2017-18, there were 21,940 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • In 2018, 169 (129 males and 40 females) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA, and the NT died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
  • Between 2009-2013 and 2014-2018, the NT was the only jurisdiction to record a decrease in intentional self-harm (suicide) death rates.

Kidney health

  • In 2018-19, 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal people 1.9%; Torres Strait Islander people 0.4%) reported kidney disease as a long-term health condition.
  • For 2014-2018, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2017-18, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018, 310 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people commenced dialysis and 49 were the recipients of new kidneys.
  • For 2013-2017, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 21 per 100,000 (NT: 47 per 100,000; WA: 38 per 100,000) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT
  • In 2018, the most common causes of death among the 217 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were receiving dialysis was CVD (64 deaths) and withdrawal from treatment (51 deaths).

Injury, including family violence

  • In 2012-13, 5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term condition caused by injury.
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months.
  • In 2016-17, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalised injury was higher for males (44 per 1,000) than females (39 per 1,000).
  • In 2017-18, 20% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assault.
  • In 2018, intentional self-harm was the leading specific cause of injury deaths for NSW, Qld, SA, WA, and NT (5.3% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths).

Respiratory health

  • In 2018-19, 29% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term respiratory condition .
  • In 2018-19, 16% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
  • In 2014-15, crude hospitalisation rates were highest for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people presenting with influenza and pneumonia (7.4 per 1,000), followed by COPD (5.3 per 1,000), acute upper respiratory infections (3.8 per 1,000) and asthma (2.9 per 1,000).
  • In 2018, chronic lower respiratory disease was the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT

Eye health

  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 38% of Aboriginal people and 40% of Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2018-19, eye and sight problems were reported by 32% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and by 43% of females.
  • In 2018-19, the most common eye conditions reported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were hyperopia (long sightedness: 22%), myopia (short sightedness: 16%), other diseases of the eye and adnexa (8.7%), cataract (1.4%), blindness (0.9%) and glaucoma (0.5%).
  • In 2014-15, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, aged 4-14 years, were reported to have eye or sight problems.
  • In 2018, 144 cases of trachoma were detected among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in at-risk communities in Qld, WA, SA and the NT
  • For 2015-17, 62% of hospitalisations for diseases of the eye (8,274) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for disorders of the lens (5,092) (mainly cataracts).

Ear health and hearing

  • In 2018-19, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term ear and/or hearing problem
  • In 2018-19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-14 years, the prevalence of otitis media (OM) was 6% and of partial or complete deafness was 3.8%.
  • In 2017-18, the age-adjusted hospitalisation rate for ear conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 1 per 1,000 population.

Oral health

  • In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
  • In 2012-2014, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-10 years had experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6-14 years had experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
  • In 2016-17, there were 3,418 potentially preventable hospitalisations for dental conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander The age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was 4.6 per 1,000.

Disability

  • In 2018-19, 27% of Aboriginal and 24% of Torres Strait Islander people reported having a disability or restrictive long-term health
  • In 2018-19, 2% of Aboriginal and 8.3% of Torres Strait Islander people reported a profound or severe core activity limitation.
  • In 2016, 7% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a profound or severe disability reported a need for assistance.
  • In 2017-18, 9% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (82%).
  • In 2017-18, the primary disability groups accessing services were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a psychiatric condition (24%), intellectual disability (23%) and physical disability (20%).
  • In 2017-18, 2,524 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Disability Agreement service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Communicable diseases

  • In 2017, there were 7,015 notifications for chlamydia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 7% of the notifications in Australia
  • During 2013-2017, there was a 9% and 9.8% decline in chlamydia notification rates among males and females (respectively).
  • In 2017, there were 4,119 gonorrhoea notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 15% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, there were 779 syphilis notifications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounting for 18% of the notifications in Australia.
  • In 2017, Qld (45%) and the NT (35%) accounted for 80% of the syphilis notifications from all jurisdictions.
  • In 2018, there were 34 cases of newly diagnosed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia .
  • In 2017, there were 1,201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia
  • In 2017, there were 151 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with hepatitis B (HBV) in Australia
  • For 2013-2017 there was a 37% decline in the HBV notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • For 2011-2015, 1,152 (14%) of the 8,316 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .
  • For 2011-2015, there were 26 deaths attributed to IPD with 11 of the 26 deaths (42%) in the 50 years and over age-group.
  • For 2011-2015, 101 (10%) of the 966 notified cases of meningococcal disease were identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2006-2015, the incidence rate of meningococcal serogroup B was 8 per 100,000, with the age- specific rate highest in infants less than 12 months of age (33 per 100,000).
  • In 2015, of the 1,255 notifications of TB in Australia, 27 (2.2%) were identified as Aboriginal and seven (0.6%) as Torres Strait Islander people
  • For 2011-2015, there were 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people diagnosed with invasive Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) in Australia
  • Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2015 notification rates for Hib decreased by around 67%.
  • In 2018-19, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reporting a disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue was 2% (males 2.4% and females 4.0%).

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #Stroke #Heart #ClosetheGap Research : @ANUmedia New recommendations for cardiovascular disease risk assessment and management in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged under 35 years

This is a great step in reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Our people have greater rates of heart disease and screening from a younger age will contribute to longer healthier lives. NACCHO encourages all Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to implement these new guidelines in their practices.

The Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Donnell Mills

The updated recommendations are for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals to receive:

  • Combined early screening for diabetes, chronic kidney disease and other cardiovascular (CVD) risk factors from the age of 18 years at latest;
  • Assessment of absolute CVD risk using an Australian CVD risk calculator from the age of 30 years at the latest.

New recommendations for CVD risk assessment and management were published today in the Medical Journal of Australia.

See all Close the gap articles in the MJA Journal HERE

The recommendations were endorsed by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association and the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, led by the Heart Foundation.

The approach to early screening was developed in partnership with the Australian National University’s Aboriginal Reference Group (Thiitu Tharrmay) and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders in CVD prevention.

Take home messages

  1. Most heart attacks and strokes can be prevented, and in the last 20 years, the rate of deaths from CVD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples has almost halved.
  2. High risk of cardiovascular disease begins early among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is mainly due to diabetes and renal diseaseIt is recommended that there should be:
    1. Combined early screening for diabetes, chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease risk factors from the age of 18 years. This should include assessment of blood glucose level or glycated haemoglobin, estimated glomerular filtration rate, serum lipids, urine albumin to creatinine ratio, and other risk factors such as blood pressure, history of familial hypercholesterolaemia, and smoking status.
    2. Assessment of absolute CVD risk using an Australian CVD risk calculator from the age of 30 years. Outside of Communicare, the best CVD risk calculator to use is auscvdrisk.com.au/risk-calculator/
  3. What you can do: Assessment of CVD risk as part of a health check. The most important part of this check-up is working with your doctor to manage your risk factors to improve your heart health and help you live a healthier, longer life.

” Around 80% of heart attacks and strokes can be prevented with optimal care. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a leading contributor to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality despite a 40% decrease in deaths in the past two decades and significant decreases in smoking prevalence.

High risk of CVD begins early among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, mainly in people with diabetes and/or renal disease.

Our program of work, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, is focused on improving prevention of cardiovascular disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through:

  • Revision and alignment of clinical practice guidelines ( see part 2 below )
  • Revision and enhanced Medicare Benefits Schedule items for prevention of chronic disease
  • Workforce education and engagement

See ANU program website

Read over 80 Aboriginal Heart health articles published by NACCHO over past 8 Years 

Read over 100 Aboriginal and Stroke articles published by NACCHO over past 8 years 

To combat high risk of heart attack and strokes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have had their heart checked by a GP by age 18 at the latest, according to new national recommendations.

As part of a regular health check with a GP, the recommendations launched today have moved the age Indigenous people should get screened for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) down from 35 to 18.

Based on research from The Australian National University (ANU), a host of health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CVD experts have agreed on the latest efforts to continue closing the gap on early heart attacks among Indigenous Australians.

“We have seen great improvements in CVD prevention and this was highlighted in this year’s Closing the Gap speech,” said ANU lead researcher, Dr Jason Agostino.

“However, it remains a leading cause of preventable death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We need to be doing all we can to prevent it.

“Just about every Aboriginal person I know has a family member or a community member who’s died young from a heart attack or stroke. We need to change that.

“We can improve things by picking up conditions like diabetes and kidney disease early and starting conversations about treatment.”

In the last 20 years, the rate of deaths from heart attacks and strokes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples have almost halved.

However, three out of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults under 35 have at least one CVD risk factor.

Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia’s Senior Cultural Advisor, Vicki Wade, is a 62-year-old cardiac nurse who has heart disease. She said it is important to remind community and health workers about the risks of CVD.

“Although rates have improved, the statistics are frightening. We have generations of Aboriginal people who are not seeing their grandchildren growing up because of heart attack and stroke,” Mrs Wade said.

“This is a chance for local solutions, community engagement and health workers to be educated.”

Fellow author, Heart Foundation Chief Medical Adviser, cardiologist Professor Garry Jennings, said: “Evidence shows that Indigenous Australians have CVD risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol at a young age. We need to prevent, identify and treat these.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders should now undergo CVD risk factor screening from 18 years, at the latest, and use Australian CVD risk calculators from age 30.

“It’s easy to do. The assessment involves the normal parts of a health check with a blood and urine test. It is quick and can be done by your local GP,” said Dr Agostino.

“For the vast majority it will be bulk-billed and free.”

The move is backed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, and the Editorial Committee for Remote Primary Health Care Manuals.

“This is about getting consistency everywhere. This is what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and the evidence is telling us we should do,” Dr Agostino said.

“Many GPs are already screening as early as 15 but some GPs and nurses don’t know about the need to test early.

“This is about doing what we can to pick up risk factors early and close the gap on early heart attacks and strokes.”

RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Chair, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara welcomed the new recommendations, saying they could make a real difference in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“We cannot hope to close the gap without making evidence-based changes – these new recommendations are a positive step to improving early detection and treatment of CVD.

“The RACGP has over 40,000 members, including 10,000 members in the faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. While many GPs know about early screening not all do. These new recommendations will help spread awareness among GPs, improving access to early screening and quality care.”

Under the new recommendations, young adults with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria, kidney disease, and very high blood pressure or high cholesterol will be identified as high- risk of CVD.

Want more information and resources?

A team at ANU is developing a toolkit on risk communication in CVD: Healing Heart Communities. Designed as a resource for all clinical staff in primary care, it aims to support conversations about CVD risk.

During development, the team has consulted the Australian National University’s Aboriginal Reference Group (Thiitu Tharrmay) and partnered with We are Saltwater People, an Indigenous-owned graphic design company based in QLD to create original artwork, design and layout.

You can find these initial resources here: [

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Rheumatic Heart Disease #RHD : The new @RHDAustralia 2020 Australian guideline for prevention, diagnosis and management of ARF and RHD (3rd edition) focus is on placing people and their families and communities, at the centre of care

By refocusing on people with this disease, this guideline acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique culture, and the social, economic and environmental circumstances in which they live.

The updated guideline identifies the systemic factors that drive disparities in best practice care delivery and offers culturally safe solutions.

We have come a long way from the first edition, and this journey has culminated in an important balance between cultural and clinical competence.”

RHDAustralia’s senior cultural advisor Vicki Wade was central in ensuring the new guideline addresses RHD as the leading cause of cardiovascular inequality and provide health professionals with a more holistic model of care

Read all Aboriginal Health and RHD articles published by NACCHO over the past 8 Years

Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia (RHDA) is proud to release the 2020 Australian guideline for prevention, diagnosis and management of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease (3rd edition), available for download now at https://www.rhdaustralia.org.au/arf-rhd-guideline.

This website also houses several supporting resources, including a summary of the key changes from the 2nd edition, and an option to pre-order a printed version of the guideline.

Written by experts from across the country and developed in collaboration with key stakeholders and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group, the 3rd edition will serve as the definitive guide to current ARF and RHD diagnosis and management in Australia, and contains significant changes and updates for clinicians to be aware of.

RHD APP

RHDA also has an app to assist clinicians in the diagnosis and management of ARF and RHD, available at: https://www.rhdaustralia.org.au/apps.

The app has been updated with content from the 3rd edition, and also contains an ARF Diagnosis Calculator which embeds the complex ARF diagnosis algorithms into a series of simple questions that assist clinicians to diagnose ARF.

If you already had the app on your phone, it should have automatically updated with the new content .

 

 

 

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #SugarTax #5Myths @ausoftheyear Dr James Muecke pushing for Scott Morrison’s government to enact a tax on sugary drinks : Money $ raised could be used to fund health promotion

” This year’s Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke, is an eye specialist with a clear vision.

He wants to change the way the world looks at sugar and the debilitating consequences of diabetes, which include blindness.

Muecke is pushing for Scott Morrison’s government to enact a tax on sugary drinks to help make that a reality.

Such a tax would increase the price of soft drinks, juices and other sugary drinks by around 20%. The money raised could be used to fund health promotion programs around the country.

The evidence backing his calls is strong. ” 

From the Conversation

” A study of intake of six remote Aboriginal communities, based on store turnover, found that intake of energy, fat and sugar was excessive, with fatty meats making the largest contribution to fat intake.

Compared with national data, intake of sweet and carbonated beverages and sugar was much higher in these communities, with the proportion of energy derived from refined sugars approximately four times the recommended intake.

Recent evidence from Mexico indicates that implementing health-related taxes on sugary drinks and on ‘junk’ food can decrease purchase of these foods and drinks.

A recent Australian study predicted that increasing the price of sugary drinks by 20% could reduce consumption by 12.6%.

Revenue raised by such a measure could be directed to an evaluation of effectiveness and in the longer term be used to subsidise and market healthy food choices as well as promotion of physical activity.

It is imperative that all of these interventions to promote healthy eating should have community-ownership and not undermine the cultural importance of family social events, the role of Elders, or traditional preferences for some food.

Food supply in Indigenous communities needs to ensure healthy, good quality foods are available at affordable prices.” 

Extract from NACCHO Network Submission to the Select Committee’s Obesity Epidemic in Australia Inquiry. 

Download the full 15 Page submission HERE

Obesity Epidemic in Australia – Network Submission – 6.7.18

Also Read over 40 Aboriginal Health and Sugar Tax articles published by NACCHO 


Taxes on sugary drinks work

Several governments around the world have adopted taxes on sugary drinks in recent years. The evidence is clear: they work.

Last year, a summary of 17 studies found health taxes on sugary drinks implemented in Berkeley and other places in the United States, Mexico, Chile, France and Spain reduced both purchases and consumption of sugary drinks.

Reliable evidence from around the world tells us a 10% tax reduces sugary drink intakes by around 10%.

The United Kingdom soft drink tax has also been making headlines recently. Since its introduction, the amount of sugar in drinks has decreased by almost 30%, and six out of ten leading drink companies have dropped the sugar content of more than 50% of their drinks.


Read more: Sugary drinks tax is working – now it’s time to target cakes, biscuits and snacks


In Australia, modelling studies have shown a 20% health tax on sugary drinks is likely to save almost A$2 billion in healthcare costs over the lifetime of the population by preventing diet-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and several cancers.

This is over and above the cost benefits of preventing dental health issues linked to consumption of sugary drinks.

Most of the health benefits (nearly 50%) would occur among those living in the lowest socioeconomic circumstances.

A 20% health tax on sugary drinks would also raise over A$600 million to invest back into the health of Australians.

After sugar taxes are introduced, people tend to switch from sugar drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks. l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock

 

So what’s the problem?

The soft drink industry uses every trick in the book to try to convince politicians a tax on sugary drinks is bad policy.

Here are our responses to some common arguments against these taxes:

Myth 1: Sugary drink taxes unfairly disadvantage the poor

It’s true people on lower incomes would feel the pinch from higher prices on sugary drinks. A 20% tax on sugary drinks in Australia would cost people from low socioeconomic households about A$35 extra per year. But this is just A$4 higher than the cost to the wealthiest households.

Importantly, poorer households are likely to get the biggest health benefits and long-term health care savings.

What’s more, the money raised from the tax could be targeted towards reducing health inequalities.


Read more: Australian sugary drinks tax could prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes and save 1,600 lives


Myth 2: Sugary drink taxes would result in job losses

Multiple studies have shown no job losses resulted from taxes on sugar drinks in Mexico and the United States.

This is in contrast to some industry-sponsored studies that try to make the case otherwise.

In Australia, job losses from such a tax are likely to be minimal. The total demand for drinks by Australian manufacturers is unlikely to change substantially because consumers would likely switch from sugary drinks to other product lines, such as bottled water and artificially sweetened drinks.

A tax on sugary drinks is unlikely to cost jobs. Successo images/Shutterstock

 

Despite industry protestations, an Australian tax would have minimal impact on sugar farmers. This is because 80% of our locally grown sugar is exported. Only a small amount of Australian sugar goes to sugary drinks, and the expected 1% drop in demand would be traded elsewhere.

Myth 3: People don’t support health taxes on sugary drinks

There is widespread support for a tax on sugary drinks from major health and consumer groups in Australia.

In addition, a national survey conducted in 2017 showed 77% of Australians supported a tax on sugary drinks, if the proceeds were used to fund obesity prevention.

Myth 4: People will just swap to other unhealthy products, so a tax is useless

Taxes, or levies, can be designed to avoid substitution to unhealthy products by covering a broad range of sugary drink options, including soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks.

There is also evidence that shows people switch to water in response to sugary drinks taxes.


Read more: Sweet power: the politics of sugar, sugary drinks and poor nutrition in Australia


Myth 5: There’s no evidence sugary drink taxes reduce obesity or diabetes

Because of the multiple drivers of obesity, it’s difficult to isolate the impact of a single measure. Indeed, we need a comprehensive policy approach to address the problem. That’s why Dr Muecke is calling for a tax on sugary drinks alongside improved food labelling and marketing regulations.

Towards better food policies

The Morrison government has previously and repeatedly rejected pushes for a tax on sugary drinks.

But Australian governments are currently developing a National Obesity Strategy, making it the ideal time to revisit this issue.

We need to stop letting myths get in the way of evidence-backed health policies.

Let’s listen to Dr Muecke – he who knows all too well the devastating effects of products packed full of sugar.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @END_RHD Our CEO Pat Turner and @jcarapetis deliver a heart-felt evidence-based Aileen Plant Oration @_PHAA_ #CDCConference2019 on Ending #RHD in Australia #ClosingTheGap

At END RHD, our vision is simple: that no child born in Australia today dies of rheumatic heart disease.

And in theory, it should be just that, simple, because RHD has already been eliminated in Australia’s non-Indigenous population. 94% of people who get RHD are our mob.

Despite widespread improvements to the living standards of most Australians, our First Nation’s people continue to experience disadvantage and conditions that perpetuate the spread of infectious diseases.

In my mind, there is no clearer example of a disease of disparity than rheumatic heart disease.

At NACCHO, we became a founding partner of END RHD not because this disease is a simple fix, but because it is hard.

Because it spans from housing, to clinics, to open heart surgery, and highlights the inequalities within the health system, and in outcomes. “

Pat Turner CEO NACCHO delivering this year’s Aileen Joy Plant Oration with END RHD Co-Chair, Professor Jonathan Carapetis. See Pats speech Part 2 below

Part 1 PHAA Press Release 

Download the full Press Release

PHAA RHD Press Release

The conference was run by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and delegates got a sneak preview on an end game strategy to rid Australia of RHD – a detailed report that is due for formal release early next year.

“It’s a strategy that relies on partnerships and empowering Indigenous people,” said Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Executive Director, Telethon Kids Institute

“The time has never been better for us to control this disease.”

Researchers are looking at new formulations so that sufferers don’t have to have monthly penicillin

injections for years. “An implant is being worked on,” Professor Carapetis said.

“For 25 years we’ve all been looking at silver bullets and not seeing improvements but we should have hope as we now pull together all we know especially the environmental determinants.”

“We should be able to reduce RHD prevalence by 70 percent,” Professor Carapetis said.

“It’s complex but not overwhelming. It involves multiple sectors and a comprehensive response.”

“The Australian Government is funding the development of a Strep A vaccine. There is progress in the field as we move towards a trial. But that won’t result in a vaccine for our kids for a decade.”

 

Part 2 Pat Turners Speech 

As an Aboriginal woman of Gurdanji-Arrernte heritage, I wish to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as the traditional owners of the land where we meet today.

I also acknowledge our continuing and vibrant First Nation’s cultures. I am grateful for the contributions of our past, present, and emerging leaders.

Today, I stand here wearing two hats. As CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation – NACCHO – and as Co-Chair of END RHD, an alliance of peaks, community and research organisations committed to ending rheumatic heart disease in Australia.

It gives me great honour to be here today to deliver this year’s Aileen Joy Plant Oration with my END RHD Co-Chair, Professor Jonathan Carapetis.

RHD begins with a sore throat or a skin sore caused by Strep A.

For our children, these are common infections – but the impact can last a lifetime.

A lifetime which, too often, is cut short.

There is no cure for RHD, but patients must undergo a painful injection of antibiotics every 28 days for at least a decade to keep their heart as strong as possible. Some must also undergo surgery to have their heart valves replaced or repaired.

In our work to close the gap, there are many priorities. Our people are telling us that. There is just so much to be done, we can’t afford to have ‘favourite’ diseases.

But RHD sticks out. It is the greatest cause of cardiovascular inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country. Non-Indigenous people, literally, just don’t get it.

In the Kimberley, the average age of death of people living with RHD is just 41 years old. This is a chronic, life-limiting disease… and it starts from a skin sore or sore throat.

We get it because of crowded houses. Because a lot of our people don’t always have access to hot water. To showers that work. To washing machines that aren’t broken.

We get it because our clinics are overwhelmed with demand, and sometimes skin sores and sore throats go untreated.

We get it because acute rheumatic fever gets missed and sometimes it is too late for treatment.

At NACCHO, we became a founding partner of END RHD not because this disease is a simple fix, but because it is hard. ( Partners in this image )

Because it spans from housing, to clinics, to open heart surgery, and highlights the inequalities within the health system, and in outcomes.

Because tackling this disease offers a way to significantly close the gap.

We are fighting to prevent the next generation of our children experiencing this needless suffering. And we are fighting for our people already living with the disease.

Kids like Tenaya, who you can see in this photo

Read Tenaya’s full story Here

You wouldn’t know it from that gorgeous smile, but when I met Tenaya at the start of the year, she had recently been flown down to Perth in a critical condition suffering from heart failure. Her mother had taken her to the local hospital three times, and each time she had been sent home.

The fourth time, her mother refused to leave until she was flown to Perth, where upon arrival, she was rushed to the intensive care unit and put on life-support for two weeks.

A month later, when she was strong enough, she underwent two rounds of open-heart surgery.

Tenaya is seven years old. And she’ll need monthly injections until she is twenty-one. Most likely, she’ll need further surgery too.

She bears both the physical scars of her surgery, and the emotional scars of months spent away from friends, family and her community.

Her mum says that every time she sees a nurse she bursts into tears, terrified.

And on top of all of that, her family have been forced to make the tough decision to move off country to be closer to the specialist medical treatment needed to keep her alive.

The fact that this suffering was caused by a preventable disease is horrifying.

The fact that RHD persists in a country as wealthy as Australia is a national shame.

The fact that without urgent investment, it’s predicted another 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will develop the disease by 2031, is unconscionable.

We cannot let it happen.

Our people know what needs to happen to end RHD in this country.

In fact, community-driven work is already underway across Australia.

Our communities are rising. They are demanding support.

In March this year, a historic Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap was signed between COAG and the Coalition of Peaks, and a joint council was formed of which I am Co-Chair.

This means that now, for the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through their peak body representatives, will share decision making with governments on Closing the Gap.

The Partnership Agreement embodies the belief of all signatories that:

  • When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included and have a real say in the design and delivery of services that impact on them, the outcomes are far better;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples need to be at the centre of Closing the Gap policy: the gap won’t close without our full involvement; and
  • COAG cannot expect us to take responsibility and work constructively with them to improve outcomes if we are excluded from the decision making.

Rheumatic heart disease exemplifies the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.

And we know that by addressing the causes, we can also eliminate other linked conditions that unfairly blight our people such as scabies, otitis media, and kidney disease.

We cannot, and will not, close the gap without ending rheumatic heart disease.

Right now, we have the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and community demand to tackle this disease.

We have a commitment from government to equal partnership in our work to close the gap.

And with over 25 years of research behind us, we have a strong evidence-base to support this community-driven work.

 

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and @END_RHD #NACCHOAgm19 #ClosingTheGap #HaveYourSayCTG : Our CEO Pat Turners speech ” #RHD the greatest cause of cardiovascular inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country. “

 ” Thank you for that introduction and warm welcome, and a special thank you to Minister Hunt for his commitment to Closing the Gap.

It is wonderful to stand here on the land of the Larrakia people in a room filled with such strength; with representation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from around the country, all with a common goal: to improve the health and wellbeing of our mob.

Today I’m up here wearing two hats.

As CEO of NACCHO, and as Co-Chair of END RHD – an alliance of peaks, community and research organisations leading the work to end rheumatic heart disease in Australia.”

NACCHO CEO Pat Turner at NACCHO Members Conference see Part 1 Full Speech 

“Today is a game-changing step. Ending RHD is a critical, tangible target to close the gap in Indigenous life expectancy.

Our Government is building on the work of the Coalition to Advance New Vaccines Against Group A Streptococcus (CANVAS) initiative, by providing $35 million over 3 years to fund the creation of a vaccine that will bring an end, once and for all, to RHD in Australia.

The trials and development, led by Australia’s leading infectious disease experts and coordinated by the Telethon Kids Institute, will give hope to thousands of First Nations people whose lives and families have been catastrophically affected by this illness.”

The funding was announced in early 2019 by Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM is being provided from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Read NACCHO Aboriginal Health and RHD Articles Here

 “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know what works best for us.

We need to make sure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are reflected and expertise is recognised in every way at every step on efforts to close the gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.’

‘The Coalition of Peaks is leading the face to face discussions, not governments.

The Peaks are asking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to tell us what should be included in a new Closing the Gap agreement and we will take this to the negotiating table.’”

Closing the Gap / Have your say CTG online survey closes today Friday, 8 November 2019 see survey link Part 2 below

Part 1 Pat Turners Speech 

Most of you will know too well the devastation that rheumatic heart disease is causing to our people. Some of you will have lost family members and friends to RHD; some of you yourselves will be living with the disease; and as Aboriginal health workers, a lot of you will be the ones on the frontline administering the monthly injections that prevent heart failure, stroke, and death.

END RHD’s vision is simple: that no child born in Australia today dies of rheumatic heart disease. And in theory, it should be just that, simple, because RHD has already been eliminated in Australia’s non-Indigenous population. 94% of people who get RHD now are our mob.

It’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are most at risk of developing RHD – our kids, kids as young as five have open heart surgery. And without critical investment, the number of our mob living with the disease will triple to 15,000 over the next 11 years. That figure represents another 10,000 of our children developing a deadly disease that is preventable. We cannot let it happen.

Today, my END RHD Co-Chair, Professor Jonathan Carapetis, is going to talk about the RHD Endgame Strategy – a plan for us to prevent these unnecessary deaths; to eliminate the disease by 2031.

After him, we’ll hear from Raychelle McKenzie and her mother Noeletta. Raychelle was diagnosed with RHD aged 8. Half her life she’s been living with RHD, getting monthly injections to keep her heart strong.

But first, I want to tell you why ending RHD is so important to me.

As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, the range of issues that require our urgent attention is extensive. Doing everything means that we rarely choose to focus on a single disease. There is so much to be done, we can’t afford to have ‘favourite’ diseases.

But RHD sticks out. It’s the greatest cause of cardiovascular inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country.

We get it because of crowded houses, because a lot of our people don’t always have access to hot water, to showers that work, to washing machines that aren’t broken.

We get it because our clinics are overwhelmed with demand and sometimes skin sores and sore throats go untreated. We get it because rheumatic fever gets missed and sometimes it is too late for treatment.

At NACCHO, we became a founding partner of END RHD not because this disease is a simple fix, but because it is hard. Because it spans from housing to clinics to open heart surgery and exemplifies the gaps in the health system and in outcomes.

We are focusing on this disease because the only possible solution is a comprehensive, Indigenous-led, primary care-based strategy of both prevention and treatment.

Our people know what needs to happen to end RHD in this country. In fact, community-driven work is already underway across Australia; our communities are rising, demanding action, demanding support to prevent the next generation experiencing this unnecessary suffering.

But what we’ve been missing, is a blueprint that ties it all together. A collaborative strategy, involving community, government and research, that outlines what needs to happen, who needs to do it, and what it’s going to cost. A plan that has been informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities – our perspectives and expertise – and aligns with the community-controlled work and principles of the Coalition of the Peaks.

And that’s exactly what this RHD Endgame Strategy offers. If fully funded and implemented, not only will this strategy eliminate RHD, it will significantly help close the gap in health outcomes. Because by addressing the root causes of RHD, we will also eliminate other linked conditions like scabies, ear infections, and kidney disease that unfairly blight our people.

The RHD Endgame Strategy is research with an impact; a solution to RHD that we can all be part of, and I ask you all to get behind it.

Part 2 Closing the Gap / Have your say CTG online survey closes today Friday, 8 November 2019.

 

The engagements are now in full swing across Australia and this is generating more interest than we had anticipated in our survey on Closing the Gap.

The Coalition of Peaks has had requests from a number of organisations across Australia seeking, some Coalition of Peak members and some governments for more time to promote and complete the survey.

We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to have their say on what should be included in a new agreement on Closing the Gap so it is agreed to extend the deadline for the survey to Friday, 8 November 2019.

This will help build further understanding and support for the new agreement and will not impact our timeframes for negotiating with government as we were advised at the most recent Partnership Working Group meeting that COAG will not meet until early 2020.

There is a discussion booklet that has background information on Closing the Gap and sets out what will be talked about in the survey.

The survey will take a little bit of time to complete. It would be great if you can answer all the questions, but you can also just focus on the issues that you care about most.

To help you prepare your answers, you can look at a full copy here

The survey is open to everyone and can be accessed here:

https://www.naccho.org.au/programmes/coalition-of-peaks/have-your-say/

NACCHO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and #WorldHeartDay #ClosingTheGap : NACCHO and the @END_RHD Coalition highlights #RHD Rheumatic Heart Disease as a leading cause of cardiovascular inequality for our mob

“ With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being 122 times more likely to have RHD than other Australians, it has become a priority issue for us to confront. In some of our communities, the average age of death from RHD is just over 40 years of age.

These statistics alone speak to the urgency of increased comprehensive and collaborative action.

We want to put ourselves in the strongest position to end this disease over the coming decades.

NACCHO Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chair of END RHD , Ms Patricia Turner AM

Read / Download full NACCHO Press Release HERE

What causes Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD)? see Part 2 below

Photo above: In February 2019, NACCHO also welcomed an announcement from the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, Minister for Indigenous Australians, that saw the Federal Government commit $35 million over three years to support the creation of a vaccine that could end RHD in Australia.

Read NACCHO RHD articles HERE

You can find lots of #WorldHeartDay resources like printable factsheets & infographics, to help educate, inspire & motivate people in your community to keep their hearts healthy

Download these Resources HERE

Read over 80 Aboriginal Heart Health articles published by NACCHO over past 7 Years

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) is marking World Heart Day by raising awareness of the high prevalence of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Over 4,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are living with the effects of acute rheumatic fever, the precursor to RHD, or have RHD. If action is not taken now it is estimated another 10,000 will have developed ARF or RHD by 2031.

NACCHO is a founding member of END RHD, an alliance of health, research and community organisations seeking to amplify efforts to end rheumatic heart disease in Australia through advocacy and engagement.

To affirm the continued effort by NACCHO and its members to eradicate this disease, NACCHO encourages all Australians to show their support by pledging their commitment to ending RHD on the END RHD website: https://endrhd.org.au/take-action/.

RHD can have devastating effects and is a form of permanent heart damage which results from a throat or skin infection caused by Strep A bacteria.

Although it is most commonly experienced by individuals living in developing countries, Australia has some of the highest rates of the disease in the world, occurring almost exclusively in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Full details of these 5 priorities HERE 

 

Part 2 What causes Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD)?

What causes Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD)?

When a child gets a group A streptococcal infection of the throat (known as strep throat), their body’s immune system, in trying to fight that infection, produces antibodies. Sometimes these antibodies, in addition to killing the strep, can damage their heart. Acute rheumatic fever can occur following an untreated strep throat infection and can cause irreparable damage to the major cardiac valves, known as rheumatic heart disease.

How common is RHD?

RHD is considered a third-world disease yet Australia has some of the highest rates in the world. About 3-5 per cent of Aboriginal people living in remote and rural areas have the condition. Children aged between 5 and 14 years are most likely to get rheumatic fever.

What are the risk factors of RHD?

Certain living conditions make streptococcal infections more likely. Known risk factors include poverty, overcrowding and limited access to medical care. It is thought that the bacteria may also enter the body through skin cuts and abrasions – so skin sores in a child should never be ignored.

What are the symptoms?

Damaged heart valves found in RHD mean the heart cannot work normally. Symptoms include heart murmur, chest pain, breathlessness, and swelling of face and legs. RHD can result in heart failure and premature death.

How is it diagnosed?

Rheumatic fever is not a straightforward diagnosis – there’s no single test but rather a checklist of symptoms, including heart inflammation, fever, painful joints and skin rash. Early diagnosis and taking preventative antibiotics can stop it developing into RHD. People with RHD require ongoing medical care, antibiotic treatment and possibly cardiac surgery.

The only effective way to stop rheumatic fever recurring is to have monthly penicillin injections, for 10 years or until the patient has turned 21.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #ChronicDisease #Prevention News : @ACDPAlliance Health groups welcome action on added sugars labelling and further consider 10 recommendations to improve the Health Star Rating system

 

“Industry spends vast amounts of money advertising unhealthy foods, so it is essential that nutrition information is readily available to help people understand what they are eating and drinking.

Two in three Australian adults are overweight or obese and unhealthy foods, including those high in added sugars, contribute greatly to excess energy intake and unhealthy weight gain”

Chair of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance Sharon McGowan said food labelling is an important part of understanding more about the products we consume every day

Read previous 70 NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Nutrition Healthy foods articles

The five year review of the HSR system (the Review) has now been completed. See Part 2 Below

Five Year Review of the Health Star Rating System – PDF 3211 KB

The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance welcomes the recent decisions to improve food labelling and provide clear and simple health information on food and drinks.

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation announced yesterday it would progress added sugars labelling and further consider 10 recommendations to improve the Health Star Rating system.

Decisions were also made to provide a nationally consistent approach to energy labelling on fast food menu boards and consider the contribution of alcohol to daily energy intake.

Current Health Star Rating system.

Ms McGowan said overweight and obesity is a key risk factor for many chronic diseases.

“We welcome improvements to existing labelling systems to increase consumer understanding and provide an incentive for industry to create healthier products.”

The Ministerial Forum also released the independent review of the Health Star Rating system with 10 recommendations for strengthening the system, including changes to how the ratings are calculated, and setting targets and timeframes for industry uptake.

The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance has been advocating to improve the Health Star Rating system for years. While the Alliance supports stronger changes to the ratings calculator, Ms McGowan said it was promising to see recommendations enhancing consistency of labels and proposing a mandatory response if voluntary targets are not met.

“Under the current voluntary system, only around 30 percent of eligible products display the health star rating on the label and some manufacturers are applying ratings to the highest scoring products only,” Ms McGowan said.

SMH Editorial The epidemic of childhood obesity and chronic health conditions linked to bad diet has turned supermarket aisles into the front line of one of the hardest debates in politics.

“To truly achieve its purpose and help people compare products, the rating needs to be visible and consistently applied to all foods and drinks.”

The recommendations to improve the Health Star Rating system will be considered by Ministers later this year.

Ms McGowan added “We know that unhealthy food and drinks are a major contributor to overweight and obesity, and that food labelling should be part of an overall approach to creating healthier food environments.”

Read the Health Star Rating report here and the Ministerial Forum communique here.

The five year review of the HSR system (the Review) has now been completed.

Five Year Review of the Health Star Rating System – PDF 3211 KB
Five Year Review of the Health Star Rating System – Word 16257 KB

The five year review of the HSR system considered if and how well the objectives of the system have been met and has identified several options for improvements to the system, including communication, monitoring, governance and system/calculator enhancements.

The Review found that the HSR system has been performing well. Whilst there is a broad range of stakeholders with diverse opinions, there is also strong support for the system to continue.

The recommendations contained in the Review Report are designed to address some of the key criticisms of the current system. The key recommendations from the report are that:

  • the HSR system continue as a voluntary system with the addition of some specific industry uptake targets and that the Australian, state and territory and New Zealand governments support the system with funding for a further four years;
  • that changes are made to the way the HSR is calculated to better align with Dietary Guidelines, and including fruit and vegetables into the system; and
  • that some minor changes are made to the governance of the system, including transfer of the HSR calculator to Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

The next steps will be for members of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation to respond to the Review Report, and the recommendations contained within. It is anticipated that Forum will respond before the end of 2019.
Five Year Review – Draft Report

A draft of the review report was made available for public comment on the Australian Department of Health’s Consultation Hub from Monday 25 February 2019 until midnight Monday 25 March 2019. Following consideration of comments received, the report will be finalised and provided to the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (through the HSRAC and the Food Regulation Standing Committee) in mid-2019. mpconsulting sought targeted feedback on the draft recommendations – in particular, any comments on inaccuracies, factual errors and additional considerations or evidence that hadn’t previously been identified.

Draft Five Year Review Report – PDF 2928 KB
Draft Five Year Review Report – Word 21107 KB

A list of submissions for which confidentiality was not requested is below; submissions are available on request from the Front-of-Pack Labelling Secretariat via frontofpack@health.gov.au.

List of submissions: draft five year review report – PDF 110 KB
List of submissions: draft five year review report – Excel 13 KB
Five Year Review – Consultation

Detail on previous opportunities to provide feedback during and on the review are available on the Stakeholder Consultation page.

public submission process for the five year review was conducted between June and August 2017. mpconsulting prepared a report on these submissions and proposed a future consultation strategy. A list of submissions made is also available.

Submissions to the five year review of the HSR system – PDF 446 KB
Submissions to the five year review of the HSR system – Excel 23 KB

Report on Submissions to the Five Year Review of the Health Star Rating System – PDF 736 KB
Report on Submissions to the Five Year Review of the Health Star Rating System – Word 217 KB

5 Year Review of the Health Star Rating system – Future Consultation Opportunities – PDF 477 KB
5 Year Review of the Health Star Rating system – Future Consultation Opportunities – Word 28 KB

mpconsulting also prepared a Navigation Paper to guide Stage 2 (Wider Consultations Feb-Apr 2018) of their consultation strategy.

Navigation Paper – PDF 355 KB
Navigation Paper – Word 252 KB

Drawing on the early submissions and public workshops conducted across Australia and New Zealand in February- April 2018, mpconsulting identified 10 key issues relating to the products on which the HSR appears and the way that stars are calculated. A range of options for addressing identified issues were identified and, where possible, mpconsulting specified its preferred option. These issues are described in the Five Year Review of the Health Star Rating System – Consultation Paper: Options for System Enhancement.

Five Year Review of the Health Star Rating System – Consultation Paper: Options for System Enhancement – PDF 944 KB
Five Year Review of the Health Star Rating System – Consultation Paper: Options for System Enhancement – Word 430 KB

This Consultation Paper is informed by the TAG’s in-depth review of the technical components of the system. The TAG developed a range of technical papers on various issues identified by stakeholders, available on the mpconsulting website.

From October to December 2018, mpconsulting sought stakeholder views on the issues and the options, input on the impacts of the various options, and any suggestions for alternative options to address the identified issues. Written submissions could be made via the Australian Department of Health’s Consultation Hub.

mpconsulting held three further stakeholder workshops in Melbourne, Auckland and Sydney in November 2018 to enable stakeholders to continue to provide input on key issues for the review, including on options for system enhancements.
Five Year Review – Process

In April 2016, the Health Star Rating (HSR) Advisory Committee (HSRAC) commenced planning for the five year review of the HSR system.

Terms of Reference for the five year review follow:
Terms of Reference for the five year review of the Health Star Rating system – PDF 23 KB
Terms of Reference for the five year review of the Health Star Rating system – Word 29 KB

In September 2016, the HSRAC established a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to analyse the performance of the HSR Calculator and respond to technical issues and related matters referred to it by the HSRAC.

HSRAC Members agreed that, in order to achieve a degree of independence, consultant(s) should be engaged to complete the review. In July 2017, following an Approach to Market process, Matthews Pegg Consulting (mpconsulting) was engaged as the independent reviewer.

The timeline for the five year review.
Five year review timeline – PDF 371 KB
Five year review timeline – Excel 14 KB