Date Published: 17 May 2009
Health professionals must help restore balance for Indigenous people
Health services must play a key roll helping Indigenous people restore a sense of balance in their lives, according to an editorial published in the May 18 Indigenous Health issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
In the editorial, Dr Tamara Mackean, President of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, argues that health professionals need to understand the cultural and spiritual elements of health.
“Indigenous healing services need to be culturally meaningful and must focus on why people are at risk of succumbing to physical disease and to using drugs and alcohol, as well as the ways in which restoring cultural norms and repairing the social fabric can mitigate these negative disruptions,” Dr Mackean said.
“Unless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are able to take action to restore balance to their lives and to experience the strength that comes from regaining that balance – and unless the rest of society facilitates, supports and nurtures this action – we will be forever addressing the symptoms rather than the root causes.”
The MJA Indigenous Health issue contains contributions from key organisations involved in the Close the Gap Campaign, which aims to reduce the 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma argues progress has been slow in turning commitments around planning and partnership to improve Indigenous health into action.
The Indigenous Dentists’ Association calls for a range of measures to improve the oral health of Indigenous Australians, including the fluoridation of community water supplies and the provision of high-quality comprehensive and culturally appropriate oral health services.
The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association reveals there are 130 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and 130 Indigenous medical students in Australia but many more are needed.