Aboriginal children are receiving much-needed ear, nose and throat treatments as part of a new program to address a gap in medical services on the Mid North Coast.
A recent statewide assessment by the Rural Doctors Network (RDN) found close to 10 per cent of Aboriginal children had ear or hearing problems, compared with three per cent of the non-Aboriginal population.
Regular ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgical clinics specifically for those children are now being held at the Port Macquarie Base Hospital.
We want to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffering avoidable hearing loss and give these children on the Mid North Coast a better start to life.
Fay Adamson, CEO of the Werin Aboriginal Medical Service
NSW Rural Doctors Network CEO Ian Cameron said the program was a joint outreach project funded through the Australian Government’s Healthy Ears, Better Hearing, Better Listening program.
Dr Cameron said if children with hearing problems did not receive treatment, it could have a big impact on all areas of their lives.
“If they don’t have the surgery then their hearing decreases, so especially education, it’s very hard to hear in a classroom if you have a hearing loss,” he said.
“That means you are much more likely to not advance in your education as we would have liked, and it also causes behavioural things.”
Dr Cameron said the project involved the RDN, the Werin Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre, Durri Aboriginal Corporation Medical Services, Mid North Coast Local Health District, and ENT surgeons.
“This is an example where two Aboriginal medical services, some surgeons and the Mid North Coast Local Health District have worked with RDN to provide this much needed service,” he said.
“This is one of a number of outreach services we do.”
Werin Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Fay Adamson said the high incidence of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth also had an impact on their health and social interactions.
“We want to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffering avoidable hearing loss, and give these children on the Mid North Coast a better start to life,” she said.