Aboriginal babies will, on average, get their first ear infection at 2 weeks of age, non-Aboriginal babies will be 9 months old before they have their first ear infection.
Chronic ear infections can lead to hearing loss which has major implications for speech and language development and learning. These negative effects are likely to be compounded in Aboriginal children, many of whom have to adapt to an educational environment where the language and culture differs from that of their home environment. In rural and remote areas there is also the problem of poor access to therapy, hearing aids, special teachers, classroom sound-field systems, and other rehabilitative programs. There are social and vocational consequences of hearing loss which further disadvantage and alienate Aboriginal people and increase their risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system.
There is, plainly, a place for identification and treatment of ear disease (in TP that happens at the GP or ED) but primary health care initiatives are paramount. Lou, the travelling audiologist, talked about the "breath, blow, cough, wash and chew" strategy to encourage young children to clear their ears and airways, keep their hands and face clean and eat well.
Last night I was on call and got one of the 3am phonecalls that all TP on-call nurses dread requesting my presence at the hospital for a fly out. The patient was an Aboriginal man with a history of chronic coronary failure, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. He was in acute renal failure which means that his kidneys had stopped working and were causing biochemical disturbances which had a knock-on effect on his other organ systems. The Royal Flying Doc took him to Perth where, depending on the damage done, he may require lifelong dialysis or a kidney transplant. The patient is 39 years old.
As I mentioned, I only got to half of Lou's talk but it was enough to get me googling. If you're interested there is more about ear health and the 'Close the Gap' initiative at these websites:
On a far more positive note, Freya's teacher (and namesake) Freyja Lucas has been short listed for the WA Aboriginal Education Excellence Award. Go Miss Lucas!!!
And finally...Ade has been down to Perth twice in recent weeks; he didn't set foot in Myer once (the crazy fool!) but he did go and inspect our house and I made him take a photo of our garden. I MISS OUR GARDEN!
|Our beautiful garden (courtesy of Garden Gem) happily regrowing after Ade |
|Land Rover with new (old) roof rack which means we can now fit ourselves and all the camping gear in.|