Learn more about chronic disease
Chronic diseases are generally defined as conditions that last for more than a year and impact the ability to perform daily activities or require ongoing medical attention, or both (CDC, 2021). In Australia, chronic conditions are the leading cause of illness, disability and death, with 1 in 2 Australians having at least one chronic condition and approximately 9 in every ten deaths associated with them.
The most common chronic conditions in Australia are:
- back pain
- cardiovascular disease
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- mental health conditions.
Two significant risk factor groups can increase the chances of developing a chronic disease:
1. Ones you can change
· Smoking tobacco
· Excessive drinking
· Lack of physical activity
2. Ones you can't change
The prevalence of chronic conditions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is higher than that of the non-Indigenous population; it is the main contributor to the life expectancy gap. For this reason, the Australian Government funds numerous programs designed to prevent, detect and manage chronic diseases, including the:
- Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP)
- Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Diseases program
- Integrated Team Care program
- National Diabetes Strategy
- Quality Assurance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services (QAAMS) program
- Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program
- Indigenous Health Research Fund and the Rheumatic Fever Strategy
- Kidney Health Australia
- optimal care pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with cancer
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health program.
Specifically, in the Northern Territory (NT), RAHC aims to prevent and manage chronic disease within remote communities in line with the Northern Territory Chronic Conditions Prevention and Management strategy 2010-2020. This strategy was developed to provide an overarching framework for health systems, services delivery reform, and reducing inequity through targeting disadvantages.
If you would like to learn more about chronic disease, complete our free eLearning module, Chronic Conditions Management, available in our eLearning Portal.