COVID-19 support essential for Aboriginals & Torres Strait Islanders, says AMA

Extra targeted health policy support to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples get through the COVID-19 pandemic, is being called for by the Australian Medical Association.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health must be a high priority in national COVID-19 recovery measures, given their increased vulnerability due to already higher rates or chronic diseases, says AMA President Dr Tony Bartone.

“The AMA has strongly welcomed existing measures to help combat COVID-19 in Australia, but they are nowhere near enough to reduce the risks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia,” explains Dr Bartone.

“Further targeted approaches for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are needed.”

Recommendations

The recommendations by the AMA, includes a dedicated pool of funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisation, “… to draw on for specified purposes including the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), point-of-care tests, staffing and consumables, capital expenditure, isolation and quarantine facilities, and satellite and outreach services to address current services gaps.

“Importantly, the amount of funds allocated for this funding pool should be considered on a needs-basis.”

Dr Bartone emphasises the urgency and priority of testing and ensuring that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service is provided with testing kits, the associated consumables, and the necessary training.

“The $58 million retrieval package announced by Minister Wyatt was a great start to acknowledge the unique health service needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in remote communities, but more is needed,” says Dr Bartone.

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