You probably already know that Indigenous Australians have a lower life expectancy and higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory disease than other Australians. But consider some facts about Indigenous Australians’ health that you may not know:
- Eyes: Blindness rates for Indigenous adults are 6.2 times those for other adults, and 94% of vision loss among Indigenous people is from preventable or treatable causes such as cataracts and uncorrected refractive errors.
- Dementia: Indigenous Australians may be more likely to suffer from dementia. Preliminary studies in this under-researched area show that 12% of Indigenous people aged over 45 are affected, with risk factors including male gender, previous stroke, head injury and low education.
- Kidneys: The well-known risk factors for kidney disease (type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease) often occur on a background of previous kidney damage from post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, urinary tract infection and urolithiasis among Indigenous people.
- Access: A 2007 report by the AMA found that Indigenous Australians do not benefit from mainstream health services to the same level of other Australians
All Australian governments made a commitment to ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous and other Australians – i.e. to close the gap in life expectancy in a generation (25 years) and to halve the Indigenous child mortality rate within a decade. This Thursday is National Close The Gap Day. Take this opportunity to learn a little more about the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and the progress that has been made towards achieving these goals in some areas. Consider: