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A House of Representatives health committee has heard large distances and a shortage of health workers make good skin health a challenge in the Kimberley.
Originally prompted by the alarming levels of skin cancer Australia wide, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing launched an inquiry into the disease, finding however, that Indigenous communities were facing more than one challenge when it came to skin health.
In Broome, the committee heard from Darren Armitage from Pilbara Kimberley Medicare Local, who said that the North West presents particular challenges in the large distances between communities and the number of health workers servicing the region. He says that just one dermatologist has to cover an immense geographical area. 'That specialist not only just covers Broome; we need to get them out to Halls Creek, Kununurra or Wyndham. It's massive country; when I go to Kununurra it takes me 12 hours to drive.'
Henry Councillor from the Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Services Council outlined the problems for skin health that Indigenous people face; rather than prevalent skin cancers, there are issues of other skin diseases and associated respiratory diseases. These are often linked to general poor health and living standards in Indigenous communities.
The committee will hold its next public hearings in Darwin and then Brisbane.
Source: ABC Kimberley