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New mobile clinic boosts health outcomes in remote Indigenous communities

Joseph Guenzler -

Central Australia's Indigenous communities now have access to improved health services through a new 4WD mobile clinic, aimed at enhancing diabetes treatment, education, and management in remote areas. 

Assistant Minister and Yanyuwa woman Malarndirri McCarthy joined the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress in Alice Springs on Wednesday to unveil the clinic.

"Diabetes is a major concern in Central Australia, making the rollout of this initiative across 8 communities a positive development," Senator McCarthy said.

"It enhances access to clinical care and boosts awareness about the condition."

Operated by Congress, the clinic responds to a 67 per cent rise in Type 2 diabetes cases in the region over the past 25 years.

Congress is partnering with Pintupi Homelands Health Service, Urapuntja Health Service and Ampilatwatja Health Centre to deliver podiatry consultations and treatment and diabetes education in 8 remote communities, including Amoonguna, Mutijulu, Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), Utju (Areyonga), Ampilatwatja, Urapuntja Homelands (Utopia) and Walungurru (Kintore). 

Wiradjuri woman Linda Burney emphasised the significance of addressing diabetes to close the life expectancy gap and praised the initiative for improving healthcare access in remote Central Australian communities.

"Diabetes is one of the biggest contributors to the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians," she said. 
 
"This is such an important initiative to give people living in remote Central Australian communities better access to specialist health care."

The new mobile clinic, supported by a $456,000 grant from the Aboriginals Benefit Account, features two private, wheelchair-friendly treatment spaces.

A podiatrist and diabetes educator will visit communities for 3 to 5 days every 8 weeks, enhancing ongoing treatment support.

The mobile clinic also offers professional development for remote healthcare workers, improving diabetes management and awareness in remote communities.

Urapuntja Health Service CEO, Melissa Hinson, said serving fourteen Homelands poses challenges including dependency on drivers, weather, and functional vehicles for healthcare access.

"The future of healthcare in our area depends on making services accessible and community-responsive," Ms Hinson said.

"This new service meets our community's need for in-home health services."

Training covers disease-specific foot checks and wound management, providing enhanced community support when the mobile clinic is elsewhere.

This initiative aims to narrow the health and life expectancy gap by granting Indigenous people in remote communities improved access to specialised healthcare.

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