Organisations unite to fast track surgery for Mackay kids who need it most
Organisations unite to fast track surgery for Mackay kids
who need it most
Fourteen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children received life-changing surgery for the management of ear, nose and throat (ENT) conditions this week thanks to a partnership between CheckUP, Mackay Hospital and Health Service, Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN), QCoal Foundation and Arrow Energy.
CheckUP coordinated the surgery and CEO, Ann Maree Liddy, said the collaboration means the children will receive the treatment they need closer to home while being made as comfortable as possible.
“ENT conditions lead to many adverse outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly for children who are performing poorly at school and drop out early.
“It has been very rewarding to collaborate with government, philanthropic and private organisations to fast track surgery for these children.
“QCoal Foundation provided vital additional funds to support the surgery and Arrow Energy sponsored culturally appropriate CheerUP packs to help the kids feel welcome in a hospital environment and lessen their fear.
“This is great support for what is already being achieved through Commonwealth funded programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” Ann Maree said.
ENT Surgeon, Dr Janitha Jayawardana performed the surgery and the children should experience almost immediate improvement with their hearing and speaking, which will increase their ability to learn.
ENT conditions have a significant impact on language development and children with these conditions run the risk of falling behind at school.
QCoal Foundation CEO Sylvia Bhatia said the Foundation was impressed with the work of CheckUP and the organisation’s focus on patients in rural and remote areas.
“QCoal Foundation is pleased to partner with CheckUP to support more patients to receive essential treatment and management of ear, nose and throat conditions.
“Through our experience with both the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Hear and Say, we know that there are many ways to address the lack of service delivery in rural centres so we look forward to tracking the outcomes of this approach,” Ms Bhatia said.
The surgery is made possible through CheckUP’s Eye and Ear Surgical Support Services (EESSS) Program, which aims to improve access to surgery by funding a fast-tracked and culturally appropriate pathway to ENT surgical services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, prioritising those people living in rural and remote locations. CheckUP’s EESSS is funded by the Commonwealth Government.
All children receive a follow-up appointment to ensure their surgery has been successful and that their hearing condition has improved.
My CheerUP packs come in a special calico backpack and contain an information and activity booklet for parents and children about keeping their ears healthy, a snuggly toy, colouring in pencils, a book, bubbles, a handball, and a range of other items.
Indigenous ear health
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have one of the highest rates of middle ear disease and hearing loss in the world. These children experience it:
- Earlier: They can contract the disease and hearing loss in their first weeks of life.
- Frequently: They suffer from the disease and hearing loss often and repeatedly.
- Severely: They can develop worse forms of the disease and greater levels of hearing loss.
- Persistently: They can experience the disease and hearing loss for longer periods of time.
- Otitis media is a major source of ear disease in Indigenous children. It often begins within weeks of birth, has repeated episodes, and can persist into adolescence.
- There are many risk factors that contribute to the development and persistency of ear disease in Indigenous children, including household overcrowding, passive smoking, premature birth, bottle feeding and malnutrition.
- Hearing loss can lead to delayed speech and educational development. The long-term effects of these lags on the wellbeing of Indigenous children is substantial.
What is CheckUP doing?
- CheckUP is the Queensland coordinator of the Eye and Ear Surgical Support Services and Healthy Ears - Better Hearing, Better Listening programs. These programs aim to increase access to a range of services including expanded primary health for Indigenous Australian children and youth the diagnosis, treatment and management of ear and hearing health.
- In 2017/18, a total of 2,711 were delivered across Queensland through the Healthy Ears program.
- In 2017/18, a total of 21,746 consultations were provided, with over 90% (19,516) provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
- Over 280 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have received ear surgery since the commencement of CheckUP’s Eye and Ear Surgical Support Services program.