Table of Contents
Respiratory Problems Experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
Respiratory issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
Factors that impact Respiratory Issues.
Social and Cultural Factors.
Internal Factors (Home Environment).
Preventing and Managing.
Effective programs to improve Health of ATS group.
TIS Program (Tackling Indigenous Smoking).
Objectives of TIS Program..
Meeting the goals.
The conditions that affect lungs or their components are known as respiratory problems or diseases (World Health Organization, 2017). Respiratory diseases can be caused by various factors and other medical issues (which may or may not be associated with lungs); these problems are normally categorized into two parts which are acute respiratory infections and chronic respiratory diseases (Australian Institute of health and Welfare, 2016). Respiratory diseases can be caused due to lack of basic health facilities and poor living conditions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Approximately one-fifth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders children aged 0-14 years were suffering from long term respiratory problems during 2012-13 and were two times more likely to be hospitalized for specific respiratory problems such as asthma, whooping cough and other acute respiratory issue during 2014-15 (Australian Institute of health and Welfare, 2017). The information provided in this report highlights respiratory health issued faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders; the socioeconomic, social and cultural, environmental and behavioral aspects that have an impact on respiratory diseases. It also highlights the issues in preventing this disease and give insights on applicable programs, services and policies and strategies that deal with the issues of respiratory problem among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders kids. This assessment also ends by giving a brief conclusion on the probable future directions for respiratory wellbeing in Australia.
Poor health and death among children is spreading to due to respiratory issues both acute infections and chronic diseases. The burden of this problem is highest among children who live in an environment which is socially, economically and culturally destitute, even in developed nations like Australia. Complex interface among various factors including genetic, environmental, socioeconomic and demographic characteristics; and the relationship between the host, environment, and agents are responsible for diseases (example- virus, bacteria, toxins, chemicals, pollution) as shown in figure below.
Focusing on the respiratory problems of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders children is essential as these issues are quite common and can be injurious to their health. Many chronic lungs diseases can be cured through proper medical treatments and preventions as well. Reasons for this include; (a) the lung continues to grow at least until 7–8 years of age, if not longer; and (b) the pulmonary immunity and respiratory phenotype is influenced by genetic-environmental interactions that commence very early in life (possibly in-utero). There are higher possibilities that many adulthood diseases are emerging and growing from childhood stage and there are adequate evidences that proof lung diseases in adults have its roots in childhood.
Socioeconomic Factors include the amount of earnings, schooling, family structure, access to transportation, access to other essential resources; geographical site and locality of housing are important determinants to wellbeing. These factors are not only important for preventing diseases but are also important to manage and cure those diseases at an early stage. All these factors are essential to prevent children from acute and chronic respiratory problems. There are visible differences in the socioeconomic condition between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders children and non indigenous people (Australian Heath Ministers’ Advisory Council, 2017) because of the widespread breathing problems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders children.
The effect of colonization on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can be witnessed today as well. The present health situation of these people are in a straight line related to disturbance that occurred to their social and cultural life long time ago, that further led to withdrawal of cultural lands, increasing poverty, unemployment and under-education (Brolan & Hills, 2014). The main reason for these outcomes were racial discrimination, prejudice, enforced exclusion of children, loss of identity, language and civilization (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, 2016.) Many negative outcomes on the respiratory health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can be connected to the factors such as inadequate housing, lower income, unemployment, lack of nutrition, smoking and excess consumption of alcohol.
According to the research, home environment can have a momentous impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of children as well as their mothers. In door residential factors such as exposure to dust particles, insects, moisture, tobacco smoke, gas and wood stoves mosquito coils and overcrowding can be responsible for respiratory problems (Apte & Salvi, 2016). Exposing the kids to tobacco smoke is the major threat in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders households, around 57% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders children aged 0-14 years were exposed to smoke in their households, 73% in remote areas and 53% in regional and urban areas during 2014-15 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016). Environmental as well as household tobacco smoke exposure led to increase in the respiratory problems such as asthma, wheeze, cough, and pneumonia (Vanker, Gie & Zar, 2017).
The external factors include exposure to school attendance, play grounds, industries and air pollution that might increase the chances of respiratory diseases among children and other people. Due to worst climatic conditions and poor infrastructure such as sealed roads many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders communities live in and are exposed to high level of geological processes and dust particles. AWA study reveals that exposure to dust particles will further led to increase in acute respiratory infections and chronic respiratory diseases. Other external factors that can cause these problems can be diesel exhaust particles, sulphur compounds and ozone.
It is a common saying that prevention is better than cure. There are many factors that can be the cause of respiratory problems in Indigenous Australian as discussed above. Proper and systematic preventions can reduce the problems of acute and chronic diseases. This will further improve their life style and increase the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians.
Providing clean and sanitized environment, healthy diet, hygienic houses, reduction in the consumption of toxic substance and tobacco are some of the major preventive procedures that can be taken in order to develop the health conditions of ATS communities. Exposing children to polluted environment and dust particles are the core reasons for chronic respiratory issues, preventing children from such hazardous exposure can reduce the cases of respiratory diseases at greater level.
Management of these problems is also essential by providing adequate health care facilities and detecting these problems at an early stage. With the help of health care facilities people who are suffering from respiratory problems can be cured. Detection of the symptoms at an early stage by using advanced medical technology can prevent Indigenous Australian children from chronic respiratory problems in future.
TIS is the long-standing Australian Government plan which assist in reducing smoking rate .This program aims to recover the life span of Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities by decreasing the use and expenditure on tobacco (Australian Government Department of Health, 2020).
From the above information it is quite evident that the mortality rate of Indigenous Australian is not as much as that of Non- Indigenous Australians and this program mainly focus on reducing the consumption of tobacco in order to improve the quality of their life.
Tobacco smoking can cause numerous respiratory issues among ATS community. Reduction in the consumption of tobacco will not only reduce the death rates at early age but will also help in reducing 23% of the gap in health burden.
The main objective of TIS is the reduction in smoking patterns among ATS communities. On the other hand local organization plan and implement actions that focus on boosting:
The Australian Government made sure that the funded activities are:
These actions are financed in order to accomplish the following:
The problems of acute and chronic respiratory conditions are quite serious among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander but the important fact is that the chronic lung diseases are preventable. Approximately one-fifth of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders children aged 0-14 years were suffering from long term respiratory problems during 2012-13 and were two times more likely to be admitted in a hospital for specific respiratory problems such as asthma, whooping cough and other acute respiratory issue during 2014-15. It is discovered that children are more prone to respiratory problems as compared to adults. There are many factors that impact upon respiratory problems such as socioeconomic factors, social and cultural factors, internal factors and external factors. Therefore, timely preventive actions and management of these issues are essential to reduce the cases of respiratory diseases at a very young stage. Recently, Australian Government has taken initiatives to recover the physical condition conditions of Indigenous Australians by launching an effective program known as TIS (Tackling Indigenous Smoking) that aims to reduce the consumption of tobacco to reduce respiratory issues.
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Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2015). The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2015. (AIHW Catalogue no IHW 147) Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2016). Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2011. (Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 6, Cat no. BOD 7) Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
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Vanker, A., Gie, R.P. & Zar, H.J. (2017). The association between environmental tobacco smoke exposure and childhood respiratory disease: a review. Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine;11(8):661-673
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