The Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) is a federally funded organisation that runs a program designed to increase the pool of urban-based health professionals available for work in indigenous communities.RAHC has helped to develop an alternative workforce for remote settings recruiting highly trained, culturally sensitive and clinically competent health professionals who are keen to undertake regular placement in the Northern Territory, supporting and strengthening the existing remote workforce.
Kim was recruited to provide essential podiatry services to two remote aboriginal communities in the Katherine West Health District. Kim’s first clinical placement saw her travelling 600km’s southwest of Katherine to Lajamanu, on the edge of the Tanami Desert. Lajamanu is home to the Warlpiri people with a population of about 700. It is a strongly traditional community where English language is secondary. After a week in Lajamanu, Kim travelled to Kalkarindgi, the home of the first and most famous Aboriginal Land Rights claim by the Gurindji people.
Kim’s work in the Northern Territory involved completing diabetic foot risk assessments, lower limb neurological and vascular screening for people with chronic kidney disease, treatment of foot ulcers, boils, dog bites, various skin infections, traumatic nail deformities and provision of preventive diabetic foot care education.
Diabetes is three times more common among indigenous people than other Australians and is worse for those living in remote areas. Diabetes is a serious health problem and is the second leading causing of death in indigenous people. Diabetic foot disease causes nerve damage associated with a loss of feeling in the feet, poor blood circulation, foot deformities and skin infections. These complications dramatically increase the risk of diabetic foot ulcers and amputations. People with diabetic foot disease can lower their risk of amputations by access to coordinated care that includes a Podiatrist.
Kim enjoyed her experience providing podiatry services in central Australia and looks forward to returning for more podiatry adventures in the future.