Thursday 1 April 2010

Close the Gap


The Close the Gap Campaign for Indigenous Health Equality has congratulated the federal government for the $436 million diabetes package announced yesterday but called for measures to ensure the funds reach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 Campaign Co-Chair, Tom Calma, said the money was a welcome boost to a health problem that significantly impacted on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but said measures should also be introduced to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to enrol in the program.

“The ratio of diabetes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been found by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to be three times the rate for the rest of the population,” Mr Calma said.

He said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were more likely to develop diabetes at a younger age, were 10 times more likely to be admitted to hospital for diabetes, and die from diabetes at 10 times the rate of the non-Aboriginal Australians.

“Diabetes is also a disease of poverty and is twice as prevalent in the most disadvantaged areas compared to the most affluent areas,” Mr Calma said.

“This funding package should recognise the real cost involved in caring for patients with more complex disease, who may be in disadvantaged settings, in challenging geographical areas, and may be also be suffering from multiple other chronic diseases at the same time as their diabetes.

“This is the reality for some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and it is imperative that this is considered when decisions are being made about where this money goes.

“We urge the government to work with stakeholders to ensure this funding allocation reflects the real costs of the most complex cases,” he said.

“In particular, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services have an important role to play in addressing this issue.”

Media contact: Tom Calma 0418 452 558