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New deal inked to end two preventable heart diseases in Indigenous communities

Tom Zaunmayr -

Eliminating two preventable diseases disproportionately impacting Indigenous communities will be the target of a new partnership between the nation's Aboriginal-controlled health industry and BHP.

BHP on Monday revealed it would inject $9.7m over three years into a program run by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation targeting rheumatic heart disease and acute rheumatic fever.

Both preventable diseases disproportionately affect regional Indigenous people.

Between 2016 and 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounted for 92 per cent of all ARF diagnoses in Australia.

NACCHO chief executive Pat Turner said the funds would allow an expansion of ACCHO health services to deliver ARF and RHD support.

"NACCHO's partnership with BHP and the Australian Government is the first-ever national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sector-led initiative to combat rheumatic heart disease in our communities," she said.

"This partnership recognises that we are best placed to design and implement health services, including prevention, screening, early diagnosis, treatment and supportive care, for our own communities."

Under the deal, the BHP funds will go toward critical health care initiatives and adds to the $18m committed by the Federal Government, and a further $13.5m promised by Labor during the Federal election.

Some $1.5 million will be spent on portable echo-cardiogram machines, training and support for primary health care workers.

BHP chief legal, governance and external affairs officer Caroline Cox said the miner was determined to play a role in closing the healthcare gap.

"BHP is proud to continue its support of NACCHO, building on partnerships established with the Aboriginal community-led health sector over many years," she said.

"It is important that we back Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands, as NACCHO's vision sets out."

BHP donated $5.9 million to ACCHOs and Aboriginal-led health responses during the COVID-19 pandemic

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