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03-June-2002The poor health of Australia's Indigenous population is well known, with life expectancy lower by 15-20 years than that of the non Indigenous population. While the health of non Indigenous people is improving, Indigenous people continue to suffer high rates of heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and injury and poisoning.
The reason for this poor state of health is complex relating back to colonization, the loss of the hunter gatherer lifestyle and the loss of land. Family separation and low levels of employment all contribute to the problems that communities are suffering today.
The Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR), best known for its excellent work in biomedical research and epidemiology, has identified Indigenous health as an area of high need and is expanding its research to include a significant Indigenous Health Research Program.
QIMR's aim is to bring about improved health outcomes for Indigenous people by developing a program that is Indigenous led allowing opportunities for Indigenous scholars to complete postgraduate studies and to employ Indigenous people as research staff.
QIMR has already developed initiatives that have contributed to improved health outcomes for Indigenous people with the outreach respiratory program and positive developments towards a vaccine for Group A streptococcus.
In a new program, Indigenous PhD scholar Aletia Twist is studying the prevalence and risk factors of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescence. This study will not only make significant contributions towards improving health for Indigenous Australians but will also contribute to the growing body of research on type 2 diabetes in indigenous populations around the world.
QIMR is currently building networks with Queensland Health and the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Forum to identify priority areas for research as well as establishing links with universities and other research institutions to develop collaborative research projects.
His Excellency, Major General Peter Arnison, AC, CVO Governor of Queensland will officially launch the program at QIMR at 10 am today, June 3, 2002. The program for the launch includes a welcome by the Brisbane Council of Elders and a dance performance by the Aboriginal and Islander Community School. This will be followed by presentations on Indigenous health research.