Team of health blitz ENT specialists on the ground in Alice

A health blitz which has begun to tackle some of the health issues suffered by Aboriginal children in remote communities, is already proving to be effective.

A team of volunteer specialists flown in from around Australia to Alice Springs will carry out ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgery on children from the Northern Territory.

More than 30 children from Papunya, Imanpa, and Mount Liebig in the Northern Territory will benefit from the health intervention and another 500 are also expected to be treated.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the initiative marks a new phase for the Northern Territory (NT) intervention and the surgery will make an enormous difference in the lives of the children.

In the main the surgery will involve the repair of perforated eardrums in order to reduce further infections and the blitz will serve to reduce the backlog of cases identified during child health checks carried out as part of the intervention.

The blitz team which comprises two specialists and three theatre nurses is the first of five such teams who are working out of the Alice Springs Hospital.

Sue Gordon the head of the intervention task force says a clear link exists between stopping hearing loss and stopping sexual abuse.

The child health checks while they have identified a number of health problems, have not revealed high levels of sexual infections, mainly because they are not specifically screened for.

There is concern from some quarters that many children in the Territory are being hidden for fear that it will be discovered that their children have been sexually abused.

Sources suggest that when the health checks were carried out in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities some families avoided the intervention health teams because their children had sexually transmitted diseases.

The health blitz on ear infections intends to treat more than 200 children in Central Australia before moving to other NT centres and a second blitz next month will tackle dental problems among Indigenous children.

To date almost 8,500 children have already been screened since the federal government intervention began last September, but another 7,000 are yet to be checked.

Ms Roxon acknowledges there are possibly thousands more children who have yet to undergo the health screening.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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