Polices and strategies to help ensure equity ofaccess for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients to culturally safeprimary healthcare services in rural, regional and remote areas must be apriority for any Federal Government following the May election.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the NationalAboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) are seeking a clearand timely commitment from the major political parties to reform the IndigenousPharmacy Programs to provide better healthcare access and services for Aboriginaland Torres Strait Islander patients in these regions.
NACCHO Acting Chairperson Ms Donnella Mills said thatwhile the Indigenous Pharmacy Programs have improved medicines access and use forAboriginal people across Australia, more needs to be done.
“NACCHO member services continue to provide feedbackon the urgent need to reform these programs. There are still patients who are not serviced effectively by theseprograms and some who are falling through the gaps,” Ms Mills said.
“Medicines access for Aboriginal people is still belowthat of the overall Australian population and access is not commensurate withthe burden of disease that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer.
Through our members’ feedback and the Indigenous PharmacyPrograms review, we know how the system needs to be improved. Now it is time for political leaders to act.”
National President of the Pharmacy Guild GeorgeTambassis said community pharmacies are a key component of primary healthcarefor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“To date significant gains have been achievedthrough the current Indigenous Pharmacy Programs and successful and sustainablepartnerships between Indigenous health services and community pharmacies havehelped to provide services for Aboriginal people that improve health outcomesand assist in Closing the Gap,” Mr Tambassis said.
“But we need to do more and we need to reform the IndigenousPharmacy Programs to move with the changing needs of these patients and thechanging health environment of their communities.”
Integrated, comprehensive pharmaceutical care isthe requisite standard that should be delivered to Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander people living in urban, regional and remote Australia. Aboriginal andTorres Strait Islander peoples should have equitable access to medicines,pharmacy programs and QUM services regardless of where they live.
To achieve this, following reforms to improve IndigenousPharmacy Programs must be regarded as mandatory by any incoming government.
- Expand the authority to write Close the Gap scriptsfor all prescribers.
- Make the Close the Gap client registration process morestraightforward and accessible.
- Link medicines subsidy toindividual clients and not practices through a national identifier.
- Improve how remote clients can receive fullysubsidised medicines in non-remote areas.
- Increase and better target fundingfor Quality Use of Medicines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peopleand health services.