NACCHO Aboriginal Health News : Evaluation of the Federal Indigenous chronic disease Package

Menzies delivers evaluation of Federal Indigenous chronic disease Package

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Primary healthcare policy and planning experts from the Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies) have welcomed the release of the report into the landscape of chronic disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT HERE

Chronic disease contributes to two thirds of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Commissioned by the federal Department of Health and Ageing, the Sentinel Sites Evaluation (SSE) is a holistic evaluation of the $805 m Indigenous Chronic Disease Package (ICDP) ; a federal initiative designed to improve the capacity of primary health care services to more effectively prevent and manage chronic disease among Indigenous populations.

Menzies Senior Researcher and SSE project leader, Professor Ross Baillie said health authorities around the world were struggling to re-orient their health systems to address the epidemic of chronic disease.

“in 2010, the Australian Government engaged Menzies to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package, “Prof Baillie said.

“The evaluation was undertaken to inform ongoing refinements in design and implementation of the program.”

The evaluation was undertaken to inform ongoing refinements in design and implementation of the program.”

The evaluation team conducted 72 community focus groups with a total of 670 participants, and over 700 interviews with key informants from community controlled, government services and GP sectors. Findings were reported back to local health services and to government in six monthly cycles between 2010-2013.

Prof Baillie said the effective completion of the SSE shows Menzies’ capacity to inform and impact national policy with the view to maximise the potential benefit to Indigenous communities across the country.

“The challenges of providing high quality chronic illness care remain complex and will require stakeholders at multiple levels of the system to grapple with new concepts, and develop and implement sophisticated strategies to address health disparity in Australia, “ Prof Baillie said.

Professor Baillie said the implementation of the ICDP to date has shown some notable achievements. These include :

–          Improved access to primary health care services and to affordable medication for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

–          Improved orientation of the General Practice sector to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

–          Significant steps towards the early establishment of a new workforce that is focused on health promotion and in development of local health promotion initiatives

–          Increased attention to enhancing access to specialist, allied health and team-based approaches to chronic illness care.

–          Professor Baillie emphasised that the evaluation report had been informed by frontline evidence from a variety of healthcare providers and community members. The report provides some direction for how service organisations and policy makers can build on the existing strengths of the ICDP priority areas.

–         “It is clear that the evaluation has influenced program refinement and policy discussions within government, particularly with regard to how the wide variation between regions in service capability can be addressed. This is vital to enhancing efforts to improve prevention and management of chronic illness to those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are most in need.”

Interviews :

Interviews are available with Professor Ross Baillie. Professor Baillie is the Scientific Director of the Centre for Primary Health Care Systems and leads the NHRMC funded ABCD National Research Partnership on quality improvement in Indigenous primary health care. He is also involved in research on food supply and environmental health and housing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Richmond Hodgson, Senior Communications and Events Officer, 0408 128 099 / communications@menzies.edu.au

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NACCHO Aboriginal health dental news:Poor dental health impacting on Aboriginal mums

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University of Adelaide researchers are calling for a greater sensitivity towards Aboriginal women in dental clinics and improved accessibility to dental care.

Read and download NACCHO’s  recent Dental submission to the House of Representatives

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This follows research that finds pregnant Aboriginal women are a vulnerable population who suffer from multiple dental health and social problems.

Associate Professor Lisa Jamieson, Director of the Indigenous Oral Health Unit at the University of Adelaide, studied 446 women pregnant with Aboriginal children and found that:

  • they were six times more likely to need a tooth extraction than those in the general population;
  • they were twice as likely to need fillings;
  • more likely to visit the dentist because of dental pain;
  • nearly two-thirds avoided dental care because of cost; and
  • four our of every five women would have difficulty paying a $100 dental bill.

In addition to their oral health problems, Associate Professor Jamieson studied social factors impacting on the women.

She found that nearly 90% were unemployed, almost half did not own a car, more than one third had five or more people staying in their house, a large proportion already had four or more children, and more than two-thirds of the women also cared for children who were not their own.

“Aboriginal women are experiencing profound social and oral health inequalities compared with the rest of society. This is a group that we really need to worry about,” Associate Professor Jamieson says.

“Poor oral health in mothers can place developing and newborn children at risk. For example, pregnant women who have missing or sore teeth feel that they are unable to eat certain foods. This food avoidance means they’re often not getting the nutrients they or their baby need.

“Also, although babies are born without bacteria in their mouths, if the mother’s oral health is poor, she can pass her bacteria onto the baby at an early stage. The baby’s teeth are attacked by bacteria from the mother as the teeth are coming through. This is a serious situation at an early age.”

Associate Professor Jamieson says there should be a greater awareness of the impact of oral health on Aboriginal women’s general health, as well as a better understanding of their needs in dental clinics.

“The clinic setting frequently doesn’t allow for group visits but we know that the group is important to Aboriginal women, so there should be more flexibility to allow for this. Dental services need to be more sensitive to Aboriginal women’s needs more broadly, because they are at the extreme end of the disease profile,” she says.

The results of this study are published in the current issue of the Australian Dental Journal.

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