Healthy win for the NT

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - GARY SHIPWAY

THE Ter­ri­tory’s kid­ney dis­ease suf­fer­ers will be the ma­jor ben­e­fi­cia­ries of a new Medi­care item to be an­nounced by the Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment to­day.

Fed­eral Min­is­ter for Health Greg Hunt will un­veil the new plan which will of­fer new sup­port to Aus­tralia’s most dial­y­sis de­pen­dent sec­tor – in­dige­nous Ter­ri­to­ri­ans.

The Ter­ri­tory’s In­dige­nous Af­fairs Min­is­ter CLP sen­a­tor Nigel Scul­lion hailed the de­ci­sion as a po­ten­tial game changer for in­dige­nous Ter­ri­to­ri­ans.

“The Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to bet­ter health out­comes for in­dige­nous Ter­ri­to­ri­ans and part of that is tack­ling life threat­en­ing kid­ney dis­ease,” he said.

“This Medi­care de­ci­sion will go a long way to im­prov­ing those out­comes.”

Fed­eral Min­is­ter Hunt echoed the CLP sen­a­tor’s sen­ti­ments.

“This is a great out­come for in­dige­nous Aus­tralians and es­pe­cially those in re­mote ar­eas,” Mr Hunt said.

“The new Medi­care item will sup­port the de­liv­ery of dial­y­sis in very re­mote ar­eas to im­prove ac­cess for Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der peo­ple with kid­ney dis­ease.

“Sig­nif­i­cantly it will en­able dial­y­sis to be man­aged by a reg­is­tered nurse, Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der health prac­ti­tioner or Abo­rig­i­nal health worker with ap­pro­pri­ate train­ing, on be­half of a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner.

Men­zies School of Health Re­search and a re­nal dial­y­sis spe­cial­ist Pro­fes­sor Alan Cass de­scribed the news as an im­por­tant initiative that has the po­ten­tial to ad­dress a dev­as­tat­ing prob­lem among re­mote com­mu­ni­ties. Prof Cass said there was no dis­ease which had a more dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on Abo­rig­i­nal Ter­ri­to­ri­ans than kid­ney dis­ease.

“One in 50 Abo­rig­ines are touched by kid­ney dis­ease — we have more than 800 Abo­rig­i­nal Ter­ri­to­ri­ans cur­rently on dial­y­sis,” he said.

“The sig­nif­i­cance of this an­nounce­ment should not be lost on any­one. Liv­ing on coun­try is im­por­tant for re­mote Abo­rig­i­nal Ter­ri­to­ri­ans and leav­ing it to re­ceive treat­ment is daunt­ing. “There are of­ten cases of pa­tients leav­ing treat­ment to go back to coun­try rather than con­tin­u­ing in a city treat­ment fa­cil­ity.”

NT Health Min­is­ter Natasha Fyles said the de­ci­sion was a win for Ter­ri­to­ri­ans suf­fer­ing end stage re­nal fail­ure.

“The Ter­ri­tory La­bor Gov­ern­ment has lob­bied strongly for this in­clu­sion on the MBS that will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove health out­comes for many Ter­ri­to­ri­ans,” she said.

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