Revealed: Northern Territory residents are SIX TIMES more likely to have STIs than those living anywhere else in Australia as the government pledges $40 MILLION to try and fix the problem
10 March 2019 By Brett Lackey
- Data shows Northern Territory has much higher STI rate than rest of the country
- Territory Health minister has written to federal government about the problem
- Federal government said it has already pledge nearly $40 million to the issue
The rate of sexually transmitted infections is staggeringly higher in the Northern Territory than anywhere else in the country.
Data reveals in 2018 reported cases of gonorrhoea in the Northern Territory were the highest on record and 6.8 times more prevalent than elsewhere in the country, according to the NT News.
The rate of chlamydia is also higher, with those in the NT twice as likely to get the infection as those in other states and territories. On top of this the Northern Territory has been declared a ‘syphilis outbreak zone’ by the federal government.
The rate of sexually transmitted infections is staggeringly higher in the Northern Territory than anywhere else in the country. Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles has written to the Federal Health Minister and Indigenous Health Minister asking for funding towards a joint approach to tackle the epidemic.
Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt, however, says the government is already doing enough to deal with the problem. He says the Government has allocated $8.5 million for the delivery of direct services and support towards the high rates of infection in the Northern Territory. .
A further $8.8 million has also been earmarked to address the outbreak of infectious syphilis in indigenous populations in central and Northern Australia, which includes rapid response kits being rolled out across the NT. Mr Wyatt says that on top of this $21.2 million is also being invested from 2017-2021 through its Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in outbreak regions.
‘State and Territory Governments have constitutional responsibility for providing sexual health services, but the Australian Government also contributes to sexual health funding, recognising the importance of this issue,’ Mr Wyatt said.
Data reveals that in 2018 reported cases of gonorrhoea (pictured) in the Northern Territory were the highest on record and 6.8 times more prevalent than elsewhere in the country. However, some critics are arguing that a more targeted approach is needed to bring the number of STIs down. Associate professor James Ward has been working with Aboriginal communities for over two decades.
The Pitjantjatjara Nurrunga man now runs the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute’s Infectious Diseases Research Program in Aboriginal Health. He thinks a back to basics approach is needed, which would include education programs in schools and more healthcare workers in remote regions.
He says the median length of stay for a remote area nurse is four months and this high turnover affects the quality of healthcare provided. ‘I think bolstering the sexual health workforce in the NT would be a very good start,’ he says.
Australian Medical Association NT president Rob Parker also says more investment is needed. He wants the federal government to establish a national CDC to provide a strategic approach to the issue. ‘It’s not just in the Northern Territory that’s the problem. You need an effective co-ordination process.’
Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles has written to the Federal Health Minister and Indigenous Health Minister asking for funding towards a joint approach to tackle the epidemic (pictured; Darwin aerial view)