The Non-compulsory, Compulsory Health Checks

The promised health checks have begun. The first doctors went out to Hermannsberg last week, are more heading out to a few other central Australian communities today.

What will they be doing? Not much. Some of the intrepid doc’s at least have relevant experience, enough to know this,

It may not be physically possible to actually get them [kids] to come to the clinic and some of them will have had quite comprehensive medical checks before.

Any other notable issues from the experienced health professionals?

I think the main challenge is actually introducing ourselves to the community and getting a bit of trust in us in a very, very short time.

Such a pity that Major Gen. Brough didn’t bother to ask such experienced people before he announced this pointless aspect of the NTERT. Indigenous kids already get health checks. There is an early childhood health program that routinely checks 0-5 yr olds throughout the NT. Latest stats indicate that this picks up around 75% of the 0-5 population for specific growth assessments. Further health checks are provided though immunisation programs and on casual presentation at remote health centres. Even better, the health checks are conducted by mostly long-term staff such as Aboriginal Health Workers (AHW) who are well known to community members.

What is required is not medical tourists, but a commitment to long-term improvements in health infrastructure and personnel, especially GPs and AHWs. What really peeves me about this is the time, energy and resources being wasted (yes, wasted) on a futile, short-term intervention that will make no practical difference to the long-term health prospects of the involved communities.


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