Clinic Attendances during the First 12 Months of Life for Aboriginal Children in Five Remote Communities of Northern Australia

Therese Kearns, Danielle Clucas, Christine Connors, Bart Currie, Jonathan Carapetis, Ross Andrews

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Background: The vast majority (>75%) of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory (NT) live in remote or very remote locations. Children in these communities have high attendance rates at local Primary Health Care (PHC) centres but there is a paucity of studies documenting the reason and frequency of attendance. Such data can be used to help guide public health policy and practice.

Methods and Findings: 
Clinic presentations during the first year of life were reviewed for 320 children born from 1 January 2001–31 December 2006. Data collected included reason for infectious presentation, antibiotic prescription and referral to hospital. The median number of presentations per child in the first year of life was 21 (IQR 15–29) with multiple reasons for presentation. The most prominent infectious presentations per child during the first year of life were upper respiratory tract infections (median 6, IQR 3–10 ); diarrhoea (median 3, IQR 1–5); ear disease (median 3, IQR 1–5); lower respiratory tract infection (median 3, IQR 2–5); scabies (median 3, IQR 1–5); and skin sores (median 3, IQR 2–5).

Infectious diseases of childhood are strongly linked with poverty, poor living conditions and overcrowding. The data reported in our study were collected through manual review, however many remote communities now have established electronic health record systems, use the Key Performance Indicator System and are engaged in CQI (continuous quality improvement) processes. Building on these recent initiatives, there is an opportunity to incorporate routine monitoring of a range of infectious conditions (we suggest diarrhoea, LRTI, scabies and skin sores) using both the age at first presentation and the median number of presentations per child during the first year of life as potential indicators of progress in addressing health inequities in remote communities.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58231
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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