World Diabetes Day Appeal
Medical services we take for granted in cities and large towns are in short supply in rural and remote northern Western Australia.
Managing diabetes and the resulting complications can be difficult. In the Kimberley, it is an even tougher challenge. One of the frequent complications is foot ulcers, which without treatment, can lead to amputations.
Thanks to generous community donations, Diabetes WA is helping to significantly reduce preventable amputations.
We recently provided $31,740 in funding to the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service and its member organisations to purchase and install seven Silhouette® cameras in clinics across the region. These 3D imaging devices record foot ulcer wound boundary, depth and healing trajectory, with a central database enabling health professionals to share and view images remotely and greatly improve continuity of care and healing outcomes.
Diabetes WA is committed to delivering world class technology to lower the instances of amputations in rural and remote communities. Around 85% of diabetes related amputations are preventable if wounds are detected early and managed appropriately.
Diabetes WA Senior Manager Sophie McGough hopes the project will improve treatment of diabetic foot ulcers in Aboriginal people living in the Kimberley region.
“Diabetes WA saw this collaboration as a unique opportunity to use funds from our supporters to build the capacity of the Aboriginal Health Workers to play a central role in foot ulcer management,” she said.
“We also plan to link this initiative with Aboriginal Health Workers delivering our diabetes self-management education and support program for Aboriginal people.”
There is a substantial cultural and psychosocial impact on Aboriginal people who need to leave country to access medical specialist services, particularly when the community have experienced generations of family returning from Perth with amputations.
Aboriginal Health Workers deliver culturally safe and appropriate services in their communities and play a vital role in keeping people on country and minimising family disruption.
When people living in remote areas travel away from country, they face communication barriers, an unfamiliar environment and lack of family and community support. Foot wound healing is delayed as people are reluctant to seek treatment. The foot cameras will enable Aboriginal Health Workers to do an initial assessment and closely monitor the ulcer, making recovery time faster while staying on country.
Dr Lorraine Anderson, Medical Director, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services said, “Our hope is that Silhouette will help reduce the need for amputations within WA, in particular Aboriginal Communities. Silhouette will most certainly remove the costs of transporting patients to and from hospital visits and will also reduce the cost of the treatment by enabling specialists to keep a much closer eye on healing progress and the treatments required at each stage of the process.”
In these remote clinics, patients will be able to see that the cameras prevent amputations and they will be encouraged to attend clinics regularly and as soon as they have a foot wound or ulcer develop. Regular clinic visits give Aboriginal Health Workers the opportunity to educate patients in healthy lifestyle choices and help them access Diabetes WA resources like our Telehealth service.
Diabetes is one of the most significant health issues facing Aboriginal people. The outcomes for those living with diabetes in remote areas of WA is often much worse than those with easy access to medical care.
Thank you for your support – it is making a real difference.
Thank you to our project partners for helping us launch this much-needed initiative:
- Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services
- Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service
- Derby Aboriginal Health Service
- Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service
- Yura Yungi Medical Service
- Royal Perth Bentley Hospital Group
- Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group