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Ending the cycle of vulnerability: AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2008



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Australian Medical Association Limited ABN 37 008 426 793

42 Macquarie Street, Barton ACT 2600: PO Box 6090, Kingston ACT 2604 Telephone: (02) 6270 5400 Facsimile (02) 6270 5499 Website : http://www.ama.com.au/

27 November 2008

ENDING THE CYCLE OF VULNERABILITY AMA Indigenous Health Report Card 2008

The Australian Medical Association today released its seventh AMA Indigenous Health Report Card in Canberra - focusing on Indigenous children and the discrepancies in their health outcomes.

Ending the Cycle of Vulnerability: The Health of Indigenous Children reveals the plight confronting these most vulnerable of citizens.

AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said tackling the poor health outcomes experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children was the foundation for any solution designed to close the 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people within a generation.

“This Report Card presents a snapshot of the health of Indigenous children. It presents a disturbing picture of health conditions and outcomes more commonly associated with the Third World than with a wealthy nation such as ours,” she said.

According to the Report Card, compared with their non-Indigenous Australian counterparts, Indigenous children were:

• More likely to be stillborn, to be born pre-term, to have low birth weight, or die in the first month of life; • Two to three times more likely to die in the first year of life; • 11 times more likely to die from respiratory causes; • At a much higher risk of suffering from infectious and parasitic diseases, respiratory and

circulatory problems, hearing loss, rheumatic fever, dental caries, injuries and clinically-significant emotional and behavioural difficulties; • Nearly 30 times more likely to suffer from nutritional anaemia and malnutrition up to four years of age; and • Cared for by substantially fewer adults, who had serious health risks themselves.

Dr Capolingua said the solutions proposed in this Report Card were neither cheap nor easy.

“But they are essential. Ending the cycle of vulnerability for Australia’s Indigenous children is a national priority.

“Australia needs to develop a substantial national investment strategy in Indigenous health, involving proper resourcing, community support and social capital building.

“The AMA believes that a national network of Aboriginal community-controlled primary health care services needs to be established specifically for Indigenous mothers and their children.”

AMA Report Card Series 2008, Ending the Cycle of Vulnerability: The Health of Indigenous Children is available online at www.ama.com.au/web.nsf/doc/WEEN-7LQVQP

CONTACT: Kirk Coningham 02 6270 5477 or 0419 142 467