Healthy win for Maari Ma
Monday, 10th May, 2010
The local Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation has won a national health award for its groundbreaking work in improving the health of Aboriginal children.
It was one of six organisations or individuals to receive an award at the inaugural Healthy for Life and New Directions Mothers and Babies Services Health Awards in Brisbane recently.
Maari Ma won in the category of "Organisational Contribution to Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Outcomes" for their Healthy Start - Antenatal to Five Years program.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, said the winners showed the innovation and leadership needed to address the Government's targets to close the gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.
Maari Ma's Chief Executive Officer, Bob Davis, said the award was a very welcome reward for much hard and innovative work.
"It is recognition of the direction Maari Ma's Board of Directors took five years ago, which was to centre Maari Ma's work around preventing chronic disease and taking an integrated, intersectoral and whole of life approach to improving the health of Aboriginal people," Mr Davis said.
"The foundations of many chronic diseases are laid down in utero and early childhood, most notably through low birth weight, growth retardation and repeated childhood infections."
He said the Healthy Start program was designed to encourage children and their families to choose healthier attitudes and habits and thereby reduce the incidence of lifestyle-related chronic diseases later in life.
"We have achieved a significant improvement in the health of children and mothers by engaging women during pregnancy and in the first five years of the child's life.
"Key to this is a schedule of more than 20 health or home visits during the child's first five years which is helping Aboriginal people to access culturally-appropriate health services and improve their health outcomes."
Mr Davis gave as an example the proportion of children who had their height and weight measured and development checks done on them.
He said this had increased from 39 per cent in 2006 to 54 per cent in 2008.
Mr Davis said Maari Ma has worked with a range of child health service providers to develop the program and continued to work with them.
"Child health service delivery is reviewed each year using continuous quality improvement and we have regular contact with other child health providers in the region such as The Broken Hill Health Service Child and Family Health Centre and the Royal Flying Doctor Service to assess improvements of child health.
"We will continue to build on the work we have done and to build positive relationships with families in the early years while children are well so that Aboriginal people in our region will enjoy the good health and longevity that non Aboriginal people enjoy," he said.