Discuss about the Designing an Health Strategy for Aboriginal People.
A good health is the right of every individual and it should be enjoyed by every member of the society regardless of their ethnicity, race, or gender(Gracey and King, 2009). According to the National Aboriginal and Islander Organization, “health is not just the physical well-being of the individual but the social, emotional and cultural well-being of the whole community. Health care services should strive to achieve the state where every individual is able to achieve their full potential as human beings, and thus bring about the complete well-being of the community.” Unfortunately, despite so many efforts by the government, there is still a rift between the ideal healthcare services and the healthcare services that are actually being provided. Certain communities of the society are still devoid of quality healthcare services(Larson et al., 2007).There are various obstructions and barriers that restrict them from availing the full benefits of healthcare services(L. Booth and Carroll, 2005).Therefore, a lot is needed to be done in the field of indigenous healthcare(Anderson et al., 2002). In this essay, I am going to discuss various problems faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and will try to devise a potential health strategy that would overcome these problems.
There are many different health systems across the world with different approaches, but they have one similar goal i.e. to improve the health of the society they are serving. I think the most important and basic principles that every health system follows are the quality of their services, accessibility and the sustainability of that system. To design an effective health system there are a few questions that should be answered: why is a change required? What are the needs of the population and how will they evolve? What would be the most suitable pathways to achieve good health? What models are needed to support optimal care? And are these changes feasible and affordable?(Dash, Llewellyn and Richardson, 2009).
There is a great need for a changein the field of indigenous healthcare. According to the data of the year 2012-2013 given by Australian Bureau of Statistics, the rate of long-term diseases in the aboriginal people was higher than that in the non-indigenous people(ABS, 2015). This can be attributed to various factors such as language, lack of transport and telecommunication services, lack of interpersonal relationships between the healthcare providers and the aboriginal patients(Dick, 2007),(Copeman, 2010). Therefore, I am proposing a health strategy/system which could possibly improve the health of aboriginal people. This health system would have healthcare personnel from the Aboriginal community because I believe it would be more helpful to have a healthcare staff from the indigenous population so that they can better understand their needs and their cultural beliefs(Houston and Legge, 2010). Different awareness programs would be started which would educate the people regarding the healthy practices and basic hygiene etiquettes. A different emergency helpline number would be issued for the indigenous people who do not have easy access to the healthcare services. Transport facilities would be improved and they would be linked with the emergency helpline numbers so that the people living in remote areas can get medical help on time(Bailie and Wayte, 2006). There are many Aboriginal community-controlled health services i.e. ACCHSs which help in establishing an efficient communication between the government, departments and the organizations within the non-indigenous and indigenous communities(Marmot, 2011). Collaboration with such ACCHSs would ensure the well-being of the indigenous communities. Many socioeconomic reforms such as improved infrastructure, better communication and transport services need to be brought into the aboriginal community. (AIHW, 2016)
Another challenge while dealing with the aboriginal patients is the cultural safety. Cultural safety is defined as an environment where an individual enjoys spiritual, social, emotional, and physical safety(Molloy and Grootjans, 2014). An individual’s identity is not challenged, assaulted, or denied in a culturally safe environment(McLennan and Khavarpour, 2004). I think that the beliefs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people vary from those of the healthcare providers. Aboriginals focus on issuing respect and developing an interpersonal bonding between them and the healthcare provider(Hunt, Bond and Brough, 2004). On the other hand, the healthcare providers are more interested in making the people comfortable to the physical environment changes. I believe that the patients should not be asked to focus on any cultural dimension that does not belong to their own culture(Hayman and Armstrong, 2014). Instead, we should be more flexible in our thinking and attitude towards different cultures(Walter, 2016). The people who do not possess a good command over the same language that we speak should be treated with patience. We should try to understand their concerns(Smye and Browne, 2002). Some of the key points to create a culturally safe environment are that one should reflect one’s own culture, beliefs and attitude. I think establishing trust with the patient helps to achieve a more comfortable environment. One should recognize and avoid the stereotypical barriers that cause hindrance in providing quality health care services(Sajiv, 2013).
The health gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people is a matter of concern(Gracey, 2014). The poor health standards of the indigenous people are associated with various factors such as poverty, malnutrition, environmental contamination, poor hygiene, lack of good infrastructure etc(Davy and Lockwood, 2014). I think the above proposed health system can help in reducing this gap by considering the following factors which define ideal health care quality(Brown, 2009):
Equity: ensuring quality healthcare services to all regardless of race, ethnicity or any other personal characteristics of the patient.
Safety: treating the patient safely without causing any care related injuries.
Timeliness: reducing waiting time and delays for the person seeking care to provide quality services on time. This can avoid severe health conditions.
Efficiency: avoiding any waste of resources such as the waste of equipment, energy, and supplies.
Patient-centeredness: providing care that respects the values, beliefs and preferences of the patient.
Effectiveness: providing healthcare services based on the scientific knowledge so that the patient could get most benefit from the health care services(Pholi, Black and Richards, 2009).
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people have as much right over the quality health care services as any other citizen of our country. They should be treated equally in a culturally safe environment where they do not feel reluctant in sharing their health concerns. Their values and beliefs should be honored(Nangala, 2008).
Every individual of our country demands an equal right to avail good health care facilities, but the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people are still not getting the quality care services. There are various barriers such as language, culture, lack of local transport system that restricts the Aboriginal people from availing the quality health care services. Therefore, there is a great need to overcome such barriers and steps should be taken in that direction. The non-indigenous people should be made more aware about the plight of the indigenous people so that they have a sense of responsibility towards their fellow countrymen. Not all the healthcare providers are completely aware about the protocols of the Aboriginal people and thus, I think education regarding the cultural safety is needed to be introduced at the root level in the education system.
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