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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin
 

Permanent dialysis pledge for outback lands

Indigenous chronic kidney disease patients in the remote communities of South Australia’s outback could soon be benefiting from permanent dialysis facilities.

A mobile kidney dialysis unit currently operates on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia's outback, but there are no permanent facilities for those who require treatment three times a week. About 25 patients have been forced to move to either Alice Springs, Adelaide or Port Augusta, and family trips home are difficult and infrequent.

Welfare groups have been calling for more permanent arrangements to be made for these families and now the South Australian State Opposition has unveiled an election promise to do just that. With $1.8 million in Federal Government assistance, the Opposition says it will install four permanent dialysis machines at a new facility Ernabella. The pledge has been welcomed by carers and locals alike.

The Opposition says it would fund the move by redirecting money which goes to the Northern Territory, for patients at Alice Springs, to the Western Desert Dialysis. That organisation already provides dialysis in six remote communities in the Territory and Western Australia.

Chief executive Sarah Brown says four dialysis machines working at full capacity on the Lands would would allow 16 patients to move home and receive treatment. She said, 'People that are away from home do a whole lot worse. They require accomodation and social workers and help to get income and we know they're in hospital a whole lot more which has enormous costs.'

The move for more localised dialysis machines could help stop cultural erosion as Indigenous Australians are almost four times as likely to die from chronic kidney disease as non-Indigenous Australians. A Federal Government study in 2011 found that in the nine years to 2009, the number of patients from Central Australia receiving kidney dialysis tripled to more than 200.

Jonathan Nicholls from Uniting Communities says that figure will more than double by 2020, assuming assuming steady long term growth. He said, 'The Opposition's policy will not only provide a much needed service, but help rebuild culture which is being eroded when Elders move away.'

Since 2012, the State Government has provided a mobile dialysis service which allows patients living in the larger treatment centres to return home for short periods of time.

Source: ABC Online

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Last updated: 24 January 2014
 
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