New Agreement Signed to End Two Preventable Heart Diseases in Indigenous Communities

Eliminating two preventable diseases disproportionately affecting Indigenous communities will be the focus of a new partnership between the nation’s Indigenous-controlled health industry and BHP.

BHP revealed on Monday that it would inject $9.7 million over three years into a program run by the National Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organization targeting rheumatic heart disease and rheumatic fever.

Both preventable diseases disproportionately affect indigenous peoples in the region.

Between 2016 and 2020, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounted for 92% of all ARF diagnoses in Australia.

NACCHO chief executive Pat Turner said the funds would enable an expansion of ACCHO’s health services to provide ARF and RHD support.

“NACCHO’s partnership with BHP and the Australian Government is the first-ever national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sector-led initiative to tackle rheumatic heart disease in our communities,” she said.

“This partnership recognizes that we are best placed to design and implement health services, including prevention, screening, early diagnosis, treatment and supportive care, for our own communities.

As part of the deal, BHP’s funds will go to critical healthcare initiatives and come on top of the $18 million pledged by the federal government, and an additional $13.5 million pledged by Labor during federal elections.

Some $1.5 million will be spent on portable echocardiogram machines, training and support for primary health care workers.

BHP’s director of legal, governance and external affairs, Caroline Cox, said the miner was determined to play a role in closing healthcare gaps.

“BHP is proud to continue its support of NACCHO, building on partnerships established with the Indigenous community-led health sector for many years,” she said.

“It is important that we support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and put Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands, as NACCHO’s vision articulates.”

BHP donated $5.9 million to ACCHOs and Indigenous-led health responses during the COVID-19 pandemic