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Medtronic team visit Baker IDI in the middle of Oz

12 November 2014

During October, two members of the Medtronic team visited Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute at their centre in Central Australia. Medtronic are long-standing supporters of Baker IDI which was established to pursue strategies to reduce death and disability from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and other related non-communicable diseases through research, clinical care, education and advocacy.

Recognising their significant efforts, dedication and achievements in improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians, Baker IDI were recipients of a Health Access Grant from Medtronic Philanthropy to aid in establishing a Diabetes and Chronic Disease Support Program for the residents of the Alice Springs Town Camps. The central component of this initiative has been the employment of a Chronic Disease Nurse for three years to work with the Housing Associations (Town Camps) of Alice Springs in partnership with their representative body, Tangentyere Council, and local primary healthcare providers to develop and implement a responsive and appropriate program to facilitate the prevention, identification and management of chronic diseases.

Read the report from Lisa, a Clinical Specialist from our Cardiac Rhythm and Heart Failure division.

My colleague, Brad, and I were fortunate to visit Central Australia with Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute to see the work they are doing in Alice Springs and with communities in the Central Desert. 

The first three days were spent learning more about Baker IDI. This included the research they are doing and the opportunity to visit the team at Alice Springs Hospital. We also experienced the beauty of the outback with excursions to Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, Jay River Camp and Alice Springs Desert Park. We saw an amazing wildlife show, experienced bush tucker out under the stars and were shown native plants and medicines.

During this time we visited a studio for artists from the Town Camps and visited the Tjanpi Desert weavers. They are a not-for-profit social enterprise which provides an income source for women living in remote communities.

I have always been a strong believer in the work of the Baker IDI and working in healthcare appreciate the limitations which may be experienced for people living in regional and remote Australia. However, this trip really opened my eyes to the challenges experienced in terms of simple diagnosis and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Complementing the visit, a two-day Symposium looked at the impact of chronic disease in Indigenous communities, in particular diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Indigenous Australians currently have a life expectancy of at least 10 years less than non-Indigenous people. Equally disturbing is their morbidity and the much younger ages that they are getting these chronic diseases. Indigenous Australians aged between 25 and 54 are 12 times more likely to suffer from heart disease and four times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. The issues that Indigenous people face especially in remote areas are numerous and complex.

I was fortunate to develop a greater understanding of these complexities during the Symposium and whilst talking with doctors, health care workers and Indigenous Australians. The determination and will to change these health disparities is inspiring and encouraging.”

Brad, Regional Sales Manager for Medtronic remarks “It is that old adage that you don’t know, what you don’t know… The gaps in information relating to Indigenous Australians and the communities in remote areas of our country were very confronting and illustrate the genuine struggle for organisations trying to deliver services. To me, this demonstrates that researchers and clinical teams on the ground, working with communities is the best way to ensure access to treatment for those needing it now, and in identifying preventative measures for the future.

I would encourage anyone with an interest in supporting health services and Indigenous Australians to look into the great programs run by Baker IDI.”

Baker IDI 2014_Photo 1

To learn more about Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute visit their website.

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