Evaluation of a model for the provision of pharmacy services to remote Aboriginal Health Services

Evaluation of the provision of a pharmacy service to remote areas

I started work with a very remote health service in 2005 as a project to have (and evaluate) a pharmacist working as part of the primary healthcare team out bush. Funding was provided by the Rural and Remote Pharmacy Workforce Development Program (Department of Health and Ageing).

Over six years later I am still here with a second pharmacist working with me.

The original project evaluation can be downloaded here from the Centre for Remote Health.

If anyone wants to do some research I’d love to have a further review of what we do.

The Intervention and Compulsory Acquisition in Town Camps

This video was recorded in July 2009 a month before the compulsory acquisition of homes in the town camps was supposed to begin.

This video was produced in defence of Tangentyere Council who was forced to relinquish the homes. It would be interesting to go back and interview these women again about whether benefits have actually been seen, and if so if it was what was promised.

It is an interesting little snapshot

Alice Springs Library Remote Lending Service

One of the high points of your week in remote Australia is when the weekly mail plane arrives. And one of the pleasures is when your library books have made it out 1000kms from the library.

Alice Springs Library in the Northern Territory has a remote lending service to those in remote areas. Alice Springs truly is the capital of Central Australia. It’s postcode is 0870. But for remote communities in the bottom of half of the Territory from the Queensland border in the east to the Western Australian border in the west and including parts of South Australia and Western Australia all use the post code 0872. Historically it has always looked after the needs of those areas (well since the white fellas like me came here).

Alice Springs Library books

When in town you sign up at the library. You complete some check lists on genres and favourite authors to assist the librarians in selecting your books every six weeks or so when you send your books back in. With each delivery of books there is a little sheet to complete if you wish to further assist the librarians. You can of course ask for specific titles as well. With my last delivery there was even lists of authors..if you like author X you will also like the authors A B & C.

There is even a reply paid form to send the books back at no charge to yourself.

It is a wonderful service.

The picture shows the books that arrived last week. Here’s the title list:

Yes there is an Asterix and Obelix cartoon book in there.

When I signed up several years ago they gave me the genre list to tick. In the list they gave me there was topic “Asterix” with a tick box next to it. How strange I thought. But how did they know? I love Asterix books so I ticked the box.

A few days later and a thousand kilometres away I received a phone call. “We inadvertently gave you the children’s checklist”. So the adult checklist was faxed out. Not much difference, just a choice of more genres.

But there was no Asterix and Obelix selection on the adult list.

How rude. What an omission from the literary classics

I had to write it in “Asterix and Obelix”, draw in a check box and tick it.

And over the last three years every second delivery of books or so I receive an Asterix and Obelix book.

Ain’t their service great.

27th October: you can see the selection list here

Cross Border Health: Renal Disease

It made the news nationwide when the Northern Territory banned those from adjoining border areas from going onto dialysis in Alice Springs no matter what family and tribal connections to the place they may have. Alice Springs has the largest dialysis unit in the southern Hemisphere.

The catalyst for the publicity and hopefully some action was the case of the famous artist Patrick Tjungurrayi from the Western Australia border community of Kiwirrkurra.

Kiwirrkurra is 200kms west of Kintore and is serviced from Alice Springs. There is no ability to get patients back from Kalgoorlie or Perth to Kiwirrkurra if they are evacuated west instead of east to Alice Springs without transiting through Alice Springs.

Renal patients in the border regions of South and Western Australia had to make the hard decision. Go to Adelaide or Perth far away from family and country or to stay on country and die. But is the wait any less in other capitals? My understanding is there is a wait list of over 40 for access to dialysis in Perth. Would you travel thousands of kilometres from home. To wait. And wait.

The stand by Patrick Tjungurrayi seems to have forced some action. The ABC reports that at the last Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) meeting an agreement on cross-border dialysis was reached. I assume this means South Australia and Western Australia will pay for access. Despite the statement saying an agreement has been reached nothing has been signed. So there will be further delays until money starts flowing, extra facilities built, dialysis machines and staff ready to go.

A few days ago the Northern Territory Government released an extra $120 million to put into the health system.

  • $9.5 million for 95 nurses.
  • $7 million to run Darwin’s new cancer centre
  • $4 million for more staff at Gove Hospital.
  • $5 million Expanded dialysis facilities in Katherine and Tennant Creek
  • I don’t know where the rest is going but I think if they were expanding real services in Alice they would trumpet it as often and as loudly as they could.

    The artists of Papunya Tula many years ago painted their hearts and souls out and and raised $1million dollars auctioning their artworks to set up a dialysis machine in Kintore for people to visit home from Alice Springs. The Kiwirrkurra artists are part of this organisation and many donated paintings for the auction.

    As well as the chair and space in Kintore the “Purple House” in Alice Springs was purchased and the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku (or the Western Desert Dialysis Mob) came into being. Kiwirrkurra people play a large role in this. But if the NT government’s decision stood it would mean they would have no access to it and no way to get home to country and family.

    Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku have received an increase in funding from the Federal government as well as $500 000 from Medicines Australia. This will allow them to kit out a dialysis truck to move into various communities and bring people home in the tri-state border (NT/WA/SA) for visits. It sort of makes a mockery of state borders.

    I look forward to a signed agreement between South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory so dialysis services can be increased in Alice Springs.

    To see the impact of end stage renal disease on remote Indigenous Australians take a look at the Australian Story program on Mandawuy Yunupingu

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