Health Issues in the Aborigines Culture
Over the course of history, the state of Aboriginal health has deteriorated in a relation much similar to the culture’s struggle to survive in the ever-changing society. As a result, this state has changed from an ideal balance with nature during the days of their hunter-gatherer lifestyle, to the more disoriented form of endurance in order to cope with obligatory integration and open antagonism by other ‘modern’ communities (Grbich, 2004). This has led to an augmentation of the encumbrance of illness and death as well as diverse forms of morbidity that Aboriginal communities experience throughout their lives. It is indeed ironical that while under the context of an organized and industrialized nation such as Australia, indigenous communities continue to face increased health problems even despite countrywide efforts at eradicating health risks thereby reducing mortality rates for children and adults alike as well as communicable and non-communicable morbidity indicators. Indigenous health problems are also noted to be a combination of third world-associated quandaries such as high rates of maternal and infant mortality as well as low life expectancy, malnutrition and other communicable diseases; as well as more ‘Western lifestyle’ health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, and many others (Lewis, 2003). This paper therefore looks at the epidemiology of the state of health for the Aboriginal community, delving into the possible sociological reasons behind this increasingly deplorable condition. At the same time, a clearer perspective will be offered into the widening gap that is noted between the state of health for Aboriginal communities and that of other Australians further putting this into a social context. The effect of a modern society on health care provision to indigenous communities is also discussed, as well as the health issues facing these people such as high blood pressure, stress, drugs, alcohol and poor children’s health. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2008), the Aboriginal community faces higher rates of ill health than any other group in Australia. From the estimate of an average of 450,000 Aborigines in Australia, it is observed that when compared to other communities, this community faces enhanced problems of chronic illness and problems from cigarette smoking in addition to other health issues. Among the various problems faced by the Aboriginal people include children’s health issues. These include low birth weight accompanied by an infant mortality rate that is almost three times that of the national average; such a figure results to 15.2 deaths of Aborigine infants as compared to 5 from other communities per 1,000 births (Thomas, 2003). Other factors connected to low birth weight include that of an enhanced risk for consequent diseases during puberty and adulthood that may lead to neonatal death. Low birth weight of the infant is associated with a slow growth rate and short pregnancy length, with Aboriginal women noted to have a 12.4% chance to have a low birth weight baby as compared to 6.2% for a non-Aboriginal woman (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). Other issues noted in Aboriginal children include the prevalence of poverty among the members of this group thereby leading to ill-health and poor benefits especially for the young. In addition to a higher rate of low birth weight in Aboriginal women, their children also face a greater risk of malnutrition. The advantage of breastfeeding is noted during the early months, with this offering an additional defense against common infant diseases. However, after weaning, the lack of nutritious foods increases the likelihood of children to contract infectious diseases further enhancing the children’s malnutrition. Other health problems faced by children include the prevalence of middle ear infection, consequently affecting the...
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