Health provider inspired to close gap on Indigenous health outcomes

In an effort to improve the health outcomes of Indigenous Australians, the Wheatbelt Health Network is offering incentives for Aboriginal locals to get annual health checks

Running for 14 years, the Closing the Gap program is a government strategy that aims to reduce disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with respect to life expectancy, child mortality, access to early childhood education, educational achievement and employment outcomes.

Wheatbelt Health Network chief executive Dr Harry Randhawa said although a long-running program there were still many areas where Aboriginal communities lagged well behind their non-Aboriginal counterparts.

"Aboriginal people are 2.3 times more likely to suffer a chronic condition than their non-Aboriginal counterparts and have the worst health outcomes of any community in Australia.," he said.

"GPs are able to conduct what is known as a 715 on an Aboriginal person every year.

"It is one of the main tools used in primary care to detect chronic conditions early in Aboriginal people.

"The early detection of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart, lung and kidney disease means that there is a good chance to avoid the complications associated with these diseases."

Northam Indigenous elder Kathy Davis encouraged other Indigenous people, regardless of their age, to engage in the program.

"We have to be a healthy mob and live longer lives," she said.

"Go see the doctor for your health check plus take your family - let's keep us healthy."

Dr Randhawa said there was plenty of room to increase the number of Aboriginal clients who undergo the annual health assessment.

"We encourage Aboriginal people of all ages to have their health checks and have a range of incentives to encourage these checks including Northam Swimming Passes, meat vouchers, t'shirts, gags and hats."

The 715 health check is available annually to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages.

Assessments can be done at any GP, at the Wheatbelt Health Network in Northam clinic by calling 9621 4444, at Aboriginal Health Northam pn 9690 2824 or Aboriginal Health Narrogin on 9621 4444.