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Labor's Indigenous Health Plan A Good Start

AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, welcomed Labors downpayment on a promise to bridge the 17-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Its admirable that Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has committed to closing the gap if his party wins Government, Dr Haikerwal said.

Mr Rudd has committed $261.4 million over four years to improving primary health care for Indigenous Australians.

Dr Haikerwal said Labors commitment of $112 million to child and maternal health services was particularly welcome.

Indigenous babies are twice as likely as non-Indigenous babies to be born at an unhealthily low weight, which often leads to long-term health problems, he said.

Helping to improve their birth weights will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies a much better start in life.

Its great that Labor has started to heed the AMAs calls for funding to be committed to increasing the birth weight of Indigenous babies.

But improving this situation requires at least $20 million a year indefinitely, not just for the next four years we hope Labors commitment is for the long term.

Dr Haikerwal said the AMA would like to see Labor build on todays announcement with other programs and more funding before the election later this year.

The AMA has repeatedly said that at least $1.8 billion over four years is needed to bring Indigenous health service provision up to par with that enjoyed by non-Indigenous Australians, Dr Haikerwal said.

We look forward to witnessing a policy and funding bidding war on Indigenous health between Prime Minister John Howard and Mr Rudd over the coming months, Dr Haikerwal said.


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