Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medicines Committee launches during NAIDOC Week
7 July 2021: A new joint committee between National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Medicines Australia (MA) launches this week, with a key focus on improving medicines access and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This year’s theme for NAIDOC Week is “Heal Country”, which highlights the need to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have been calling for action to address the grave social and economic disadvantages experienced for generations. This includes targeting health inequalities currently being experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and building better access to medicines and treatments.
The NACCHO and MA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medicines Committee will have a strong representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices including health consumers, health practitioners, ACCHO sector representatives, as well as from industry.
The group acknowledges the ongoing disparities in access to medicines and associated services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples compared to other Australians.
Discussions will initially focus on exploring ways of working together, such as strengthening the medicines sector’s cultural responsiveness, addressing health literacy, improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the sector, addressing medicines access and affordability, and considering remote and regional access. The group will also consider how reforms in health policy, legislation and the Health Technology Assessment processes may improve meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
According to NACCHO CEO, Pat Turner, the creation of this Committee will enhance the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the biopharmaceutical sector, particularly when it comes to policies and medicine access.
“Up until now, there has not been a formal coordinated way for ACCHOs to engage with industry. The creation of this Committee will help streamline this process and effectively support medicines-related measures that improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and communities.”
Medicines Australia CEO, Elizabeth de Somer, says this Committee will enable stronger collaboration that will help improve access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
“This Committee is the next step in maturing the partnership between NACCHO and Medicines Australia. The enhanced collaboration will contribute to important decision-making and policy improvement – including how to strengthen access to quality, affordable healthcare; and how to ensure that being part of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is no longer a barrier to being healthy.”