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Improvements have been made in the oral and ear health of Indigenous children in the Northern Territory (NT), according to a report released recently by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Northern Territory emergency response child health check initiative follow-up for oral and ear health: final report, August 2007 to June 2012, presents information on the dental, audiology and ear, nose and throat (ENT) services funded throughout the course of the Child health check initiative (CHCI) Closing the gap program between August 2007 and June 2012.
Although open to all Indigenous children under 16 years of age living in prescribed communities, this program specifically targeted those who received referrals from their Child health check (CHC).
'Over the course of the whole program, around 17,200 dental services were received by 9,300 children and 9,200 audiology services were received by 5,700 children,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.
A further 3,800 ENT consultations were provided to over 2,600 children by the conclusion of the ENT component of the program in December 2010. Between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2010, 291 ENT surgeries were performed on 283 children.
At 30 June 2012, the majority of children who were on active CHC referral lists received follow-up services. The follow-up rates were 94% for dental referral, nearly 100% for audiology referral and 97% for ENT referral.
The most significant oral health problem among children who received an oral health service was untreated caries (decay).
Around one-half of the children who had an audiological assessment were diagnosed with hearing loss and around one-third were diagnosed with some degree of hearing impairment based on their better ear. At least one type of middle ear condition was diagnosed in around two-thirds of children who received an audiology or ENT service.
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)
Ph: (02) 6244 1146
Mobile: 0407 068 033