Thursday, 4 March 2010

Ep 123: Remote Medicine

Wadeye is a remote town in Australia's Northern Territory. It has a population of roughly 2500 people, 2200 of whom are Indigenous Australians, and as such is one of Australia's largest indigenous communities. The town is over 200 km southwest of Darwin, and during the wet season the only way in and out of the town is by air, as the roads are completely cut off.
Uploaded onto flickr by sarah_brooke00
The town has a number of social issues, with gang violence making international headlines in 2006. On average there are 16 people per house and the median age at death is an astoundingly low 46 years. This compares to the medium age at death of a non-indigenous person in the Northern Territory of over 70 years, and over 80 in other states (data here).

Wadeye's remoteness, social issues and cultural differences present a considerable challenge to the provision of quality health care. There is only one general practitioner in town with serious cases referred to Darwin. Victoria Bond (who you may have heard as a regular contributor to the Diffusion Science Radio Show) has taken a posting in Wadeye as part of her medical degree. I chatted to Victoria about the unique medical issues that have arisen in Wadeye, and what it's like as an American student in such a remote place.

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