Diabetes is a considerable bother of the Australian healthcare system as it contributes considerably to morbidity and mortality of the Australian population. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW, 2019a), 1.2 million or 6% of Australians aged 18 and older reported having diabetes. In 2016-2017, there were 50,150 principal and 1,118,974 additional hospitalizations associated with different types of diabetes (AIHW, 2019b). In 2017, diabetes contributed to 11% (17,000) deaths in Australia (AIHW, 2019a).
However, there are considerable disparities in hospitalization and mortality rates among different groups of the Australian population. IN particular, Indigenous Australians are reported to have a higher risk of developing diabetes of different types. The present paper aims at comparing the demographic and health data profiles of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population to the data of non-Indigenous Australians.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not a homogeneous group as it consists of hundreds of smaller groups with a unique cultural and linguistic background (AIHW, no date). Indigenous Australians comprised 3.3% of the Australian population in 2016, and 3.6 million episodes of care were provided by Indigenous primary health services (AIHW, no date). The population’s median age is 23 compared with 38 for non-Indigenous Australians (AIHW, no date).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher risk of developing chronic and psychological disorders in comparison with non-Indigenous Australians. According to Ride (2017), Indigenous Australians are affected by a reduced amount of physical activity, poorer nutrition, low levels of education, unemployment, low income, poor or no housing, poor access to services, and racism. These matters contribute to increased morbidity and mortality of the Indigenous population.
Diabetes in Indigenous Australians
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher chance of developing diabetes than non-Indigenous Australians. According to Ride (2017), the risk of having diabetes is four times greater in Indigenous people. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS, 2013) reports that age is a more significant risk factor for the Indigenous population rather. Almost 40% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 55 and over have diabetes or high sugar levels; however, the prevalence of the conditions is 5.1% among Indigenous Australians aged 25-34 (ABS, 2013).
The numbers are significantly lower for non-Indigenous Australians, with 13.7% and 0.9% correspondingly (ABS, 2013). The fact that Indigenous people have a higher incidence of diabetes is connected to the cultural, historical, and economic background of the population. Ride (2017) reports that the central risk factors for acquiring diabetes are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, tobacco smoking, low levels of physical activity, poor diet, and obesity. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more exposed to these risk factors, which explains the epidemiology described above.
Diabetes is a matter of significant concern for Australians in general and the Indigenous population in particular. The prevalence of diabetes of all kinds is considerably higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in comparison with non-Indigenous Australians.
The Indigenous population is disadvantaged in terms of social determinants of health, including income and social status, employment, education level, childhood experiences, physical environment, and access to health services. The situation can be improved by implementing the chronic care model, which aims at building partnerships between the healthcare system and communities. Such an approach will help to address the unique needs of cultural minorities, which is central to culture-sensitive care, which is one of the principles of primary health care.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013) Diabetes. Web.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019a). Diabetes. Web.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019b). Diabetes web pages data tables.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (no date). Indigenous Australians. Web.
Ride, K. (2017). Plain language review of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Mount Lawley: Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.