Research reveals Flying Doctor role in Indigenous child health

Most people associate the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) with outback farmers, but new research released today reveals 1 in 3 RFDS aeromedical retrievals are for Indigenous Australians, 14% of these children under the age of five.

The research reveals the key reasons for RFDS aeromedical retrievals from remote Indigenous communities as being for:
> 17.9% for injury or poisoning;
> 14.4% suffering a stroke, heart attack or disease of the circulatory system;
> 12.8% having pneumonia, asthma or other disease of the respiratory system.

1 in every 5 aeromedical retrievals of Indigenous people suffering respiratory illness were under one year of age. 40% were below school age.

"This research is a first for the RFDS. It warns Indigenous children are over-represented in aeromedical retrieval data. Preventable or manageable illnesses such as pneumonia, asthma and croup are leaving kids so ill the only option is to fly them to hospital," said Martin Laverty, CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.

The research outlines illness and injury rates requiring a sample of 17,606 to be flown from remote communities to hospitals over a three year period. It points to how illness and injury can be prevented and how health services can improve Indigenous health care.

Providing aeromedical retrieval care to remote Indigenous communities: Lara Bishop, Martin Laverty and Lauren Gale

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