A report emerging from the Child and Maternal Health Roundtable hosted by the Lowitja Institute in March 2012 has identified a number of priority areas for action.
Some 40 people attended the Roundtable, including representatives from the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, government agencies, universities and research institutes. The discussions led to the development of a set of strategies and recommendations to address the key issues and knowledge ‘gaps’ identified by the Roundtable, grouped by the following themes:
- Theme 1: Using data to inform interventions, develop collaborations and improve health outcomes.
- Theme 2: Adopting a causal pathway approach to improving the health and educational outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
- Theme 3: Perinatal health – use of alcohol, tobacco and other substances and their impact on child development.
- Theme 4: Parental education and improved outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander maternal and child health.
Among the specific issues identified were current inaccuracies in the registration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births, with possible actions including greater education of mothers in how to register births and working with the Australian College of Midwives to encourage midwives to play a more active role in assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers with the birth registration process.
Another high priority area identified was the need to link data sets on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births at a national level, to improve the quality of birth data available to researchers and policy makers.
The Roundtable also discussed existing initiatives and interventions in child and maternal health but found there had not been a systematic review of most of those initiatives. The paper proposes developing a Centre for Research Excellence application for the National Health and Medical Research Council to contribute to the evidence about effective interventions and research capacity building in the communities.
Other potential actions emerging from the Roundtable were the development of a paper on the relevance of integration of services between hospitals, primary health care services and community settings, and the need to establish a Child and Maternal Network to improve collaboration on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and maternal issues and to act as a clearing house for relevant projects and programs.
For more information on the Roundtable, including the Report and Presentations, please go to Child and Maternal Health Roundtable.