Health Issues of Aboriginal People in Australia

Introduction

It is imperative to note that there are numerous health issues that exist among the aboriginal population in Australia (Thomas, 2012). In this case, this paper intends to present a hypothetical case study of the health issue facing the aboriginal group of people in Australia. Notably, studies have shown that diabetes is one of the most traumatizing ailments and hence has become a health issue among this group. In the case study, the paper will address the identity, gender, age, environment, geographical location as well as cultural background of the population. Besides, the Ottawa Charter principles and actions will be used to address the health issue. In line with this, substantial evidence will be used to justify aspects of social inequalities and injustices in regards to the health issue presented in the case study.

Hypothetical scenario of the case study

The aboriginals in Australia are disadvantaged segment of the population in terms of healthcare provision. It is worth noting that the contemporary health issue affecting this portion of the population is the high prevalence rate of diabetes across various age groups. There seems to be poor health status of this group in Australia (Hill, Barker & Vos, 2007). In line with this, there are myriads of causative factors that are highly likely to lead to poor health among this cultural group (Anderson et al., 2006). In addition, issues related to gender, environment and socioeconomic factors have been perceived to accelerate the prevalence of diabetes among the aboriginal people. For instance, it is evident that the population inhabits in poor and remote geographical regions in Australia and this can relatively cause poor status in their health (Reilly et al, 2011).

Action areas

It is imperative to note that the aboriginal population experiences poor health services than any other ethnic group in Australia (Hill, Barker & Vos, 2007). Needless to say, statistical evidences have illustrated that ill health among the Aborigines remains incongruously high. Research has shown that efforts have been made for decades to improve the health standards of this group (Hill, Barker & Vos, 2007). In line with this diabetes as an issue of health concern in the community has been said to increase the rate of heart related diseases as well as overweight problems.

Regardless of the numerous actions taken to address the health issue affecting this population, the greatest challenge that has made it impossible to achieve positive results involves poor personal skills. A large proportion of the aboriginal people have inadequate educational experience and this makes it hard for them to conduct healthy lifestyles. To explain this further, poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, lack of physical exercise and poor diet accelerate the spread of diabetes. In addition, it is essential to note that a proportion of the population entails children and adolescents who are not able to control some of their health decisions (Thomas, 2012).

Community action

From a careful review of history, it is evident that community action against the health issue among aboriginal people has not been very effective. Studies have shown that the aboriginal population has been neglected in community action in enhancing public health (Zubrick et al., 2012). Therefore, it is factual that neglect has permitted the health issue to develop. It was until the year 2006 that Australian government showed interest and commitment to address the health issue in the population. Additionally, efforts made were communal based and meant to eradicate health disparity and life expectancy gap that existed between the Aborigines and the entire population. Besides, there are community actions that have been geared towards helping adolescents in developing responsible lifestyle habits (Reilly et al., 2011).

Public Policy

Empirical research has revealed that there are existing policies to help prevent the health issue among the Aboriginal people. For instance, the Government has raised the ban on adolescent smoking of substance like bhang and cigarettes. Moreover, policies have been implemented to prevent youths who are below the age of 18 years from careless and irresponsible drinking of alcoholic products (Zubrick et al., 2012). Besides, the government has come up with public policies meant to build health literacy among the Aboriginal people (Reilly et al., 2011).

That notwithstanding, there are policies that could be introduced to help people make positive choices for their health in terms of nutrition (Abbott et al., 2012). Previously, the government in Australia had come up with a policy demanding that the aboriginal children be fed with healthy diets in schools. In line with this, the healthcare sector has set regulations demanding that young infants should be fed on safe baby products (Abbott et al., 2012). The government has equally emphasized on the need to take safe and clean water. Nevertheless, there is need to come up with more sound polices on nutrition in order to eradicate health issues facing the aboriginal people.

Environment

From a careful review of literature, studies have shown that the aboriginal people have shorter life expectancies than the rest of the population. This is due to the fact that the contemporary socioeconomic and physical environments are not very supportive for healthy living of the population (Reilly et al., 2011). In line with this, research studies have shown that the population is more prevalent to diabetes as compared to other people. From a hypothetical point of view, it is anticipated that this could have been caused by lack of enough exercise facilities. Needless to say, this factor is perceived to make the population more susceptible to diabetes which give way to other deadly diseases such as obesity and heart-related illnesses t(Dragon & Anderson, 2011).

Besides, the current social-cultural environment among the Aboriginal people is likely to accelerate the incidences of diabetes. This is due to the fact that a significant number of the population is addicted to behavioral risk factors such as alcohol consumption and petrol sniffing as compared to other non-Aboriginal people. Notably, it is definite that there are social-cultural factors that are likely to contribute to the health issue affecting the aboriginal people in Australia (Zubrick et al., 2012). Needless to say, unlike the effects of diabetes, the population also suffers from sexually transmitted diseases (Humphreys et al., 2002).

There are also environmental changes that can be used to promote physical fitness and healthy living for the population. For instance, establishing physical exercise facilities in remote regions so that the young population remains physically fit by exercising (Zubrick et al., 2012).

Health Services

Research has revealed that the available health services are too expensive and also offered on the basis of cultural identity and needs. In this case, it is not easy for sexually active adolescents to make responsible choices on safe sex. While geography and climate have been the major determinants of the population’s health it is apparent that inequality and social isolation prevent the population from accessing health services (Reilly et al., 2011).

Recommendations and Justification

Evidence has shown that there exist social isolation and inequality among the Aboriginal people in Australia. Notably, this factor has exceedingly increased the rate of prevalence to the health issues in the population (Ziersch et al., 2011). From a careful review of literature, evidence has shown that the Aboriginal community lives in rural geographical areas that have been considered as remote and isolated. Additionally, studies have shown geographical isolation denies them the chance to access and enjoy health facilities (Hill, Barker & Vos, 2007). Notably, there are numerous geographical barriers that make it expensive and hard to access to health institutions that are located in urban and rural areas. Nevertheless, Ziersch,et al (2011) confirm the fact that efforts made by the government and health sector to improve healthcare in Australia target the non-aborigines. To support this claim, research has shown that most of the health facilities are located in regions where only an undersized proportion of the Aboriginal people benefits from them. Therefore, one can use this to justify the claim that there exist acute forms of social injustice in Australia where the general health facilities do not satisfactorily benefit the aborigines (Ziersch et al., 2011).

Certainly, there are numerous measures that can be adopted in order to diminish inequality in health outcomes between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal population in Australia. As a matter of fact, health promotion in Australia should be geared towards ensuring a complete state of physical, social and mental well being of both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people (Zubrick et al., 2012).

It is evident from the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion Framework that there are viable measures that can be used to help in improving the health status of the population. Moreover, these measures will also help to boost their social well-being (Hill, Barker & Vos, 2007). Notably, in this charter one can analyze that social justice and equity are some of the preconditions that can be used to enhance health in a population. At this juncture, there are recommendations that can be made to ensure that health becomes a common resource for the entire population in Australia. In this case, it is recommended that the Australian government should strive to establish and provide healthcare services to the entire population regardless of the status of any ethnic or cultural group (Dragon & Anderson, 2011).

Of essence to note is that the Aboriginal cultural predispositions act as a huge barrier that prevents them from seeking medical services. For this reason, the government in Australia should try to promote and boost the literacy level so that a significant percentage within the population may appreciate the need of seeking healthcare services (Hill, Barker & Vos, 2007).Additionally, the government should develop optimistic interest and try to understand the Aboriginal culture. Alternatively, public education can persuade the population to abandon unhealthy cultural practices and consequently boost their everyday life (Reilly et al., 2011). It is important to note that isolating the aboriginal people will not improve their health status in anyway. Instead, it will make things worse. Therefore, the government should be considering them just like the rest of the population in Australia.

From a keen review of statistics, Dragon and Anderson (2011) confirm that only a very minute proportion of Aboriginal nurses get the chance to work in Health sectors. This can be used as an evidence to justify the level of social injustice and inequality in health sector. Therefore, it is recommended that the government should increase the number of Aboriginal nurses and health practitioners in healthcare sectors. Humphreys et al (2002) assert that this action will change population culture by making the population to adopt and embrace secure healthcare services. Pointless to say, the government should establish community controlled services by Aboriginal community. Kljakovic et al (2012) comment that community controlled services will foster the responsibility and understanding among the Aboriginal population especially on the need for healthcare services (Hill, Barker & Vos, 2007). Needless to say, it is recommended that there should be an equal distribution of general health even in remote and isolated regions where a large number of Aboriginal people inhabit. By so doing, Humphreys et al (2002) complement that this will make it possible for the Aboriginal people to access and benefit from health services.

In a shift of focus, it is essential to mention that there are enablers that can be used to implement recommendations and actions identified above. One of the enablers is building a healthy public policy in Australia. This policy will help to ensure that the health agenda targets all the regions in the country. Anderson et al (2006) point out that this will help the healthcare providers to achieve positive results from the overall population. In addition, another enabler involves creating a favorable environment for the aboriginal population. Notably, it is evident that Aboriginal population survives in hostile environment where they lack adequate food and facilities for physical activities. Therefore, in order to establish a supportive environment, Kljakovic et al (2012) argue that the government and healthcare providers should strive to create and foster awareness of the public on the essence of maintaining healthy environment. This entails mutual existence of the population and their interaction with the immediate environment (Anderson et al., 2006). For instance, the government should come up with sound health policies to discourage illicit consumption of drugs such as binge drinking and petrol sniffing (Thomas, 2012). Moreover, the Government should establish physical facilities even in remote regions to encourage exercise. Note that these measures will eventually lower the prevalence of diabetes among the population.This idea should be implemented in all the communities regardless of their cultural practices.

Needless to say, it is imperative to note that there are numerous barriers to the suggested actions. For instance, Anderson et al (2006) underscore that the aspect of cultural security is one of the major barriers for the suggested strategies. From a careful review of history, evidence has shown that there have been cultural practices among the Aboriginal population that have recurred from ancient time and hence they are still being practiced even today. Therefore, one can analyze that that the Aboriginal people highly value maintaining and protecting their cultural identity. Research evidences have shown that in most cases, seeking medical services is sometimes prohibited and therefore not acceptable among the Aboriginal population (Dragon & Anderson, 2011).

In addition to this, poor lifestyles among the aborigines act as a huge barrier in dealing with the health issues. For instance, statistical facts have proved that smoking cigarettes is a common habit among the Aboriginal people bearing in mind that the prevalence ranges from 40-80% (Hill, Barker & Vos, 2007). Additionally, there are other practices that cause numerous health issues. These include consumption if illicit brews and substances such as petrol sniffing. In line with this, other malpractices include smoking bang and poor sexual culture (Thomas, 2012).That notwithstanding, illiteracy and poor personal skills can act as barriers in achieving the recommended actions (Zubrick et al., 2012). Just like it was mentioned earlier, a significant proportion of Aboriginal population is illiterate. In this case, they lack adequate personal skills on how to lead healthy lifestyles. Moreover, lack of adequate information on lifestyle decisions makes it hard for the population to adhere to recommended strategies (Thomas, 2012).

To reiterate on the discussion above, it is vital to mention that the Aboriginal people in Australia have been a victim of diabetes for decades. Notably, the population has been neglected due to the myriads of prevailing social inequity and injustices. In this case, it becomes difficult for the population to access adequate health services despite the fact that they inhabit isolated and remote regions in Australia. Consequently, diabetes has increased the mortality rate of the population. In line with this, their life expectancy has largely been reduced as compared to other indigenous people living in Australia. Pointless to say, there are causative actors of the prevailing health issues that have been discussed above. For example, the major causative factors can be classified in terms of environmental and social-cultural aspects. However, there are also other causative factors that fall within the cognitive, emotional and geographical aspects. It is worth to note that according to Ottawa Charter, numerous actions have been taken in response to the health issue facing the Aboriginal people. These strategies include use of community-based actions, public policy, improved health services and environmental conservation practices.

References

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Dragon, N., & Anderson, K. (2011). Indigenous health: taking the next step. Australian Nursing Journal, 19(2), 24-28.

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Humphreys, J. et al (2002). Whither rural health? Reviewing a decade of progress in rural health. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 10(1), 2-14.

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Zubrick, S. et al (2011). Maternal death and the onward psychosocial circumstances of Australian Aboriginal children and young people. Psychological Medicine, 41(9), 1971-1980.