Fluoride Action Network

Plan sets goals for Aboriginal health

Source: The Age | July 29th, 2008 | By Sarah Smiles
Location: Australia

A BLUEPRINT to reverse Third World standards of Aboriginal health calls for fluoridation of drinking water in most Aboriginal communities by 2020.

Developed by the “Close the Gap” indigenous health campaign, the blueprint was presented to Health Minister Nicola Roxon and Liberal Senator Cory Bernadi yesterday.

Both sides of politics have signed on to the target to close the 17-year gap in life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians by 2030.

Better access to specialists and improved mental health services in remote areas by 2013 are proposed as benchmarks to reduce high suicide rates.

A recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that Aboriginal health outcomes are comparable with those in the Third World. Indigenous people are 12 times as likely to have diabetes as whites, twice as likely to be obese and four times as likely to have respiratory disease.

Teenage girls are four times as likely to become pregnant.

Ms Roxon welcomed the blueprint. “It’s a valuable contribution, and we’ll look at how their work can be tied in to the COAG negotiations,” she said of negotiations between states and territories on indigenous health.

The report calls for a national training plan for indigenous health workers and for a financial incentive scheme to attract health workers to Aboriginal communities.