The Morrison Government is investing an additional $6 million to address acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in three North Queensland regions.
Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt said the additional funding, through the government’s Rheumatic Fever Strategy, will enable the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to work with communities in Far North Queensland to address RHD and ARF.
“ARF and RHD primarily affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote and very remote Australian communities,” Mr Hunt said.
“This funding will support local community-led prevention, screening, early diagnosis and treatment to address ARF and RHD.
“It will save lives, protect lives and deliver better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now and in the future.”
The rate of RHD in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Queensland is the second highest in Australia, behind the Northern Territory.
The additional funding will increase funding through the RFS and ensure that NACCHO can provide specific dedicated support to three North Queensland communities with the highest incidences of RHD and ARF– Doomadgee, Yarrabah and the Cairns region.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch welcomed the funding and said Aboriginal children aged between 5 to 15 years of age are 55 times more likely to die from RHD.
“No child should be dying from this terrible disease,” Mr Entsch said.
“I welcome this much needed additional funding that will expand the support provided by our community-controlled health services to continue to provide evidence-based care and support in across Doomadgee, Yarrabah and Cairns.”
The RFS is giving practical effect to the principles of the Closing the Gap Agreement, to which all governments have committed. Decisions on implementing the strategy nationally will be shared between the Morrison Government and NACCHO, supported by other key stakeholders, including jurisdictions.
This funding takes the government’s investment in the RFS to more than $31 million to 2024–25.
The strategy is underpinned by broader Government investment in Indigenous health and health infrastructure, including more than $4 billion to 2024-25 to increase access to health care and improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This is a stark contrast to Mr Albanese and Labor, who when last in Government stopped listing essential medicines and treatments on the PBS, slashed funding for mental health support and tried to rip funding out of medical research.