COAG diabetes plan must include a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 16 Apr 2007

Any national diabetes plan agreed by the Council of Australian Governments must include a central focus on combating diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, according to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Oxfam Australia.
Welcoming the States’ push for a coordinated, national strategy to cut the level of type 2 diabetes, NACCHO and Oxfam Australia highlighted the particularly high incidence of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
‘The States have highlighted the need for greater attention to be directed to combating type-2 diabetes. That need is especially high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who are ten times more likely to contract diabetes than other Australians,’ said NACCHO’s Chief Executive Officer, Dea Delaney Thiele.
States have recognised that the approach to dealing with diabetes involves primary prevention, early detection and treatment, and finally, dealing with kidney failure and other complications of diabetes.
‘Indigenous people have higher rates of preventable complications from diabetes than other Australians, which reflects their poorer access to prevention and primary health care. If their access to primary health care could be optimised according to need, this would reduce costs to the health system overall. The evidence for this is indisputable and it doesn’t make sense to avoid action on this front,’ added Ms Thiele.
‘Aboriginal community controlled health organisations deliver the vast bulk of primary health care to Aboriginal peoples and make a substantial contribution to diabetes care. Independent reviews have, however, confirmed that this could be optimised if services were supported to a level that matched the needs of the population, such as those with diabetes,’ Ms Thiele said.
The AMA have determined that it would take less than 1% of the health budget to correct this deficiency. With an extra $460 million per annum, Indigenous peoples’ access to medicines, and primary health care, would be significantly improved.
‘Tackling the high incidence of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be a crucial step in achieving health equality for Indigenous people,’ said Oxfam Australia’s Executive Director, Andrew Hewett.
‘Indigenous health must be much higher on the COAG agenda. Closing the current gap in life expectancy, where Australia’s Indigenous people continue to die around 20 years earlier than other Australians should be a national priority – and it is only our political leaders that can make it so.
Previous COAG agreements have been important but the health status of Australia’s Indigenous people remains the worst in the developed world. Turning this situation around demands a sustained focus and sufficient funding from Federal, State and Territory Governments,’ Mr Hewett concluded.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Ms Thiele or Mr Hewett call Vedran Drakulic on 0409 960 100.