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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Health Minister and MTAA champion Indigenous health equity, amplifying the Voice during NAIDOC Week

Health Industry Hub | July 6, 2023 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: The Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care and Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) have pledged their support to the Voice to Parliament referendum, coinciding with NAIDOC Week.

Minister Butler emphasised the crucial need for constitutional recognition of First Nations people in Australia. He highlighted the transformative role that a Voice could play in shaping health policies that directly benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The MTAA’s endorsement is a significant step toward recognising the importance of the Uluru Statement from The Heart, which calls for a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament. This move aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by giving them a platform to inform and influence policy decisions that directly impact their health.

Healthcare inequalities have long plagued Indigenous communities, leading to shorter life expectancies, limited access to quality care, and poorer health outcomes. The burden of disease faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is a staggering 2.3 times higher than that of other Australians.

“As a nation, it is imperative that we address this pressing issue and strive for health equity for all,” said MTAA in a statement.

A Voice for health equity: Organon and J&J leaders champion the Voice to Parliament as a catalyst for change

While acknowledging that diverse perspectives exist among its members and employees, the MTAA encourages everyone to take the time to become informed and understand the facts before casting their votes in the forthcoming referendum.

To delve into the significance of the Voice in relation to health equity, industry professionals from the medtech, pharma, and biotech sectors joined the First Nations Health Equity Network for a panel discussion recently. This gathering aimed to foster a deeper understanding of the potential impact of a Voice to Parliament on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policies.

Health gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians have long been a cause for concern. Conditions like rheumatic heart disease, often eradicated in developed countries, persist in Indigenous communities due to systemic poverty and limited access to healthcare.

Shockingly, First Nations children aged 5 to 15 are 55 times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Indigenous Australians experience a life expectancy that is eight years shorter than non-Indigenous Australians, suffer from kidney failure at seven times the rate, and face suicide rates more than double the national average among young people. While cancer deaths declined overall by 10% last decade across Australia, they actually increased by 12% for Indigenous Australians.

Despite significant investments and well-intentioned efforts, the current approach to Indigenous health has fallen short of the mark. Urgent action is needed, and the endorsement of the Voice to Parliament offers a promising new avenue to address these deep-rooted health disparities.

“I am confident that a Voice to the Parliament and to the health minister will help find better, more effective, practical ways to close the gap and allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to live longer, healthier, happier lives,” said Minister Butler.

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