LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Decisive and urgent action is needed to prevent COVID-19 spreading to remote Australian communities, the council of the Central Australia Academic Health Science Network [CA AHSN] decided yesterday.
A major priority in our endeavours is working with Aboriginal communities and support to the primary health services in the bush and our regional centres.
Things that might work in the big cities simply won’t work out bush, so we need to focus on local solutions.
We believe it is critical that rapid and extensive testing be rolled out as soon as possible, so that such work is timely and localised. As a first step this should be located in Alice Springs, rapidly followed by other regional centres.
Of paramount concern is that our health services—already severely under resourced—not be further burdened.
Just as happened in the recent bush fire crises, we would see it as essential that Commonwealth-funded remote area health medical workers being brought in to help.
Both Aboriginal community-controlled and government primary health services face enormous day-to-day challenges—and we strongly support them as the real heroes of health care in remote Australia, from Aboriginal health practitioners, to nurses to allied health workers to doctors, to all staff doing such vital work.
Meanwhile, our research activities will limit fieldwork, and researchers recently overseas will not be allowed to travel remotely. This follows the initiatives already of some of our partner organisations.
CA AHSN will continue to be informed by messaging from the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT [AMSANT] and the Department of Health. AMSANT has already been supplying advice to member services, with a focus on updating vaccinations and a focus on day-to-day preventive measure such as hand washing.
In any case, we will also seek to follow the recommendations of local Aboriginal community organisations in our work.
A major priority, from the Commonwealth and NT governments should be a major effort in proving accurate and concise information to Aboriginal people — with a strong emphasis given to delivering such information in First Nations languages.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR