Chronic disease and Indigenous health
Indigenous Australians suffer from a higher rate of premature adult mortality due to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease than other Australians do. These excess, premature, and to some extent preventable chronic disease deaths are the product of complex factors.
To date, little research has focused on the barriers to best possible management of chronic diseases among Indigenous Australians, and very little research has sought to collaborate with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) to produce locally meaningful solutions.
Improving Indigenous health
The Kanyini Vascular Collaboration is a five-year research program established by Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, health professionals, policy-makers and communities.
The goal of the collaboration is to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at risk of vascular diseases including heart, kidney disease and diabetes through four main objectives.
The Kanyini Vascular Collaboration will ultimately improve health service delivery and outcomes by:
- Developing an understanding of the significant patient, health care provider and systems level barriers to accessing necessary services and quality care;
- Using this knowledge to develop, implement and evaluate innovative best-practice models, developed in partnership with, and specifically for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This will facilitate the translation of research findings into changes in service delivery and improve the likelihood of successful and sustainable interventions;
- Providing compelling evidence to inform and strongly advocate for policy changes that are geared towards health service reform for Indigenous communities.
Building local capacity
A core priority of the Kanyini Vascular Collaboration is to build capacity within local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. Community needs and priorities will drive the research, which will make a significant contribution to the capacity of communities to undertake similar programs.
Developing a model
The findings from Kanyini will have great potential for wider application. The program will serve as a model for exploring complex disease landscapes and orientating health system reform towards the needs of other disadvantaged groups and the broader population.
Reducing the gulf between evidence and practice in the prevention and management of chronic disease is a crucial goal for promoting and maintaining good health.