December 11, 2006

bad health

It's common knowledge that health in remote communities is in a bad state. Good then, to read a couple of stories calling for action. Read this and this.

There's no doubt that this mob here aren't very well off when it comes to health care. Just today, one of the language workers came to me cranky because he went to the clinic and the big blister on his foot from a scalding wasn't treated. Later, another of the language workers nearly collapsed in pain and has been at the clinic all day. He'd been scheduled in for an urgent colonoscopy and gastroscopy but of course the process takes a couple of weeks and he has to have it done 320kms away in Katherine. He's really quite sick now and me and all his family are very worried.

But how much can you expect when there's only two nurses here today. That doesn't seem like much for a community of over 1000. And there's no doctor here til tomorrow.

I don't know anything about health care but would a regular town of over 1000 have a permanent doctor stationed there? Would a town of over 1000 with such major health problems have a doctor permanently stationed there? There just doesn't seem to be much of an investment in health here to try and improve the situation. And it's not just more money for white nurses and doctors, it's investing in health education, training local people in health and investing in traditional health practices such as bush medicine. It can be done, but doesn't seem to be happening.

The ABC article is right - for a wealthy country, there's no reason why things should be the way they are out here.


Jane Simpson said...

2 nurses seems awfully low even by NT standards. And for evidence that others are appalled by the lack of access to medical care, check out the coroner's report (PDF) into the unnecessarily painful death of D. Granites at Yuendumu.

Wamut said...

Thanks for the comment Jane (the link doesn't work however) :-(

And yes, there are absolutely tragic stories out there. This year a man died at Kalkarindji airport because nobody knew to pick him up after being flown back from Katherine hospital. But for every tragic story there are dozens of more menial stories that indicate the sorry state of health care in communities.

And there should have been three nurses the other day but one was sick.

And my poor wawa, he's been flown out to Katherine hospital now and is still very sick. :-(

Jangari said...

here's the link that Jane meant to post.
Something went awry with the address.

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg,

Justin here. One angle on the lack of access to health services in communities is the impact on language maintenance and revitalization. I also don't know anything about health care or what services are currently available (e.g., is dialysis available at Ngukurr?), but how many of the old people are living in Katherine or other bigger towns so they can get regular medical treatment? How many would prefer to be living in Ngukurr (where they might be in a better position to share their knowledge)? OK, it's probably not realistic to expect Ngukurr or Kalkaringi to have a fully-equipped emergency cardiology unit anytime in the near future, but I wonder if a few small improvements in the community clinics would make it possible for some people to stay on (or closer to) their country if they want to.