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'The Big Three' killers of Aboriginal people

'The Big Three' killers of Aboriginal people threaten closing the gap: Greens

Media Release | Spokesperson Rachel Siewert

A new report on the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure, raises concerns for efforts to close the gap on life expectancy and rates of chronic disease in Aboriginal communities, say the Greens.

"There is no doubt that when it comes to poor health in disadvantaged communities, these are The Big Three," Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

"As the AIHW report (released on Friday) shows, they are the biggest preventable causes of chronic disease and reduced life expectancy - together accounting for two-thirds of all deaths in Australia.

"The highest risk factor for all three is our growing epidemic of obesity - which rose from 11% in 1995 to 24% in 2008 nationwide.

"These rates are highest in Aboriginal communities and continue to grow at an alarming rate.

"Physical inactivity and high cholesterol, together with poor nutrition and high rates of smoking - are all contributing to a growing problem that will wipe out current efforts to 'close the gap'.

"Mainstream public health campaigns have failed to make inroads in reducing tobacco use in Aboriginal communities, and the same is likely for diabetes.

"The recent crisis in dialysis services in Central Australia highlights the issue, and if anything, the gap is widening instead of closing.

"The growing rates of chronic disease in the Centre are outstripping the ability of our regional health systems to keep up with the demand for renal services.

"We have argued for a two-pronged approach - planning to ensure there are enough services in place to meet growing demand, and greater resources for effective prevention strategies - to reduce the growing burden of chronic disease."

"More focus needs to be given to specific prevention strategies in Aboriginal communities or we will fail to close the gap," Senator Siewert concluded.


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