The Health of today’s Indigenous Australians is burdened with chronic and communicable disease, infant mortality and morbidity, substance misuse, poor nutrition, emotional distress, increased hospitalization, lower levels of access to health care, and are at a greater socio-economic disadvantage than other Australians. This has become a national health priority as the decline in health in Indigenous Australians has led to a more than seventeen year gap in life expectancy than other Australians.
Indigenous Australians suffer from many preventative diseases, illnesses and disabilities at a greater rate than other Australians. Cardiovascular disease is the largest contributor to the disparity in health experienced by Indigenous Australians, it is also the leading cause of death among Indigenous Australians, with a death rate nearly three times that for non-Indigenous Australians (as cited in Penm, 2008). Coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart failure and hypertension are the main cardiovascular conditions that contribute to this burden among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people(Penm, 2008).
Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease are also major cardiovascular conditions among Indigenous Australians (Penm, 2008). Many preventable risks factors for CVD include smoking, physical inactivity, poor nutrition, risky alcohol consumption, hypertension, overweight and obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease (Penm, 2008). In addition socioeconomic disadvantage and psychosocial factors such as depression and social isolation, and lack of social support have also been recognized as risk factors for CVD (as cited in Penm, 2008).
Many Indigenous Australians face social inequalities which have lead to the widespread disparity in health between Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians making this health issue a major primary health concern. A leaflet has been prepared as the main choice of medium for educational purposes as it is a small handout that can be comprehensive, yet precise information detailing the facts, causes and risks associated with CVD.
The leaflet will target Indigenous Australians both men and women of ages from twenty four to fifty five as CVD is brought upon risk factors such as smoking, poor nutrition, physical inactivity causing overweight and obesity. The aim of the leaflet is encourage Indigenous Australians to enquire about their health, to encourage others that may be of high risk, to promote change of unhealthy habits, to be informed of the risk factors that can onset CVD and to live a healthier lifestyle. The leaflet should be available at all community health sectors, primarily rural and remote areas, where there is a lack of access to health services.
There are already public policies and programs encouraging people to quit smoking, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day, and to exercise for at least thirty minutes every day. Health workers need to incorporate culturally safe and sensitive teaching with this information, in order to gain understanding of Indigenous culture and their cultural perspective. The leaflets are used as a personal resource to encourage the use of seeking community help through social services and or seeking medical advice, as it notifies them that Indigenous Australians are more like to develop CVD.
This encourages community based health services to supply adequate resources in order to prevent, maintain or treat unhealthy lifestyle habits that can result or lead to cardiovascular disease or poor health. This community support can encourage self empowerment to identify behaviours associated with their health. Word Count – 544 Reference List Penm E 2008. Cardiovascular disease and its associated risk factors in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2004–05. Cardiovascular disease series no. 29. Cat. no. CVD 41. Canberra: AIHW.
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