Posted on Sunday, 24 May 2015
RACGP: More support for multidisciplinary team practice in addressing health disparities A supportive policy focus is required which recognises that in overcoming significant disadvantage, including in rural areas, it is the capacity of the primary healthcare workforce that remains key to realising improved health outcomes in the community. Responsive policy needs to be broad and flexible enough to support community need, it must tackle the main drivers of poor health and ensure a fairer share relative to need if it is to provide for an enduring health benefit for all. Supporting multidisciplinary team practice through flexible and targeted funding will help to shift disparities but this requires sustained funding and commitment from Government.

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Seems that fair access to decent food is one issue underpinning this. Hard for health team say "eat more healthily when thats logidtically difficult". I liked the example of community driven answer (bush food and own preparation of food). Is there a way to pt pressure on remote community supermarkets to not have the majority of shelves stocked with junk food?

No remote store in central Australia should ever make a profit. Doing the maths - if you are servicing a community of 300 people, paying full time wages for 2-3 staff, running lighting, refrigeration etc, transport costs over long distances with high fuel and maintenance costs, you will always need to be subsidized, you can not make a profit. In the desert you can not grow enough food to sustain the population due to soil quality and water quality and availability. It is hard work for little return to collect bush tucker day after day as a necessity rather than an enjoyable social activity, in the desert. Currently profits occur because prices are so high. If basic needs of daily life need to be subsided to be affordable for a population, then the population may have to accept lesser choices and options available ie healthy food and no coke, lollies etc in stores. The vexed question of food security, choices and rights continues to remain with us.

Agree that nutrition is fundamental. Poor nutrition for children means they can't learn. Poor nutrition for older people exacerbates chronic disease and makes it more difficult for them to concentrate and function. Availability fo food is important but so also is education about healthy eating.

supporting capacity of the remote workforce means a high priority by health services on ensuring their staff also have safe places to live and work, access to good nutrition themselves, ability to maintain social links where there is no internet or mobile phone cover, safe places to exercise and are supported to engage in networking functions