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Remote dialysis for regional patients

A new federal program will bring dialysis clinics closer to home in remote communities, so people don't have to travel thousands of kilometres for treatment.

Kidney failure may not be fatal, but for people in remote communities it can feel that way when they are forced to travel thousands of kilometres for treatment. Yanyuwa woman Carol Charlie has spent the last six years in Darwin, nearly 1000km from her home in the Gulf of Carpentaria, so she can access this necessary treatment. Yet plans for new renal dialysis units in six remote communities across Australia could change things for Ms Charlie and others living with chronic kidney disease.

"So many First Nations people in particular suffer from this dreadful disease,"
"When kidney disease progresses to end stage, dialysis is essential - but it comes with a huge mental, economic and emotional toll when patients have to leave family and country.
"We want to make sure that they can get home to country and be able to live on country and know that they don't have to be in the larger capital cities." Senator Malarndirri McCarthy told journalists on lastThursday.

Indigenous Australians are treated for kidney failure at seven times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. They are also four times as likely to die from chronic kidney disease and are less likely to be able to access kidney transplants, in part due to systemic geographical barriers in accessing care and services.

Senator McCarthy said she had heard people compare being diagnosed with renal disease to a death sentence.

"You know that your life is about being on a machine three days a week."

The new dialysis chairs and infrastructure will be rolled out in three communities in the Northern Territory, including Ms Charlie's home of Borroloola. The units will be administered by the Alice Springs-based Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation, also known as Purple House. Purple House currently runs 18 remote clinics and two mobile dialysis units. There are also plans to build units in remote towns in South Australia and Western Australia as part of the $45 million federal government program. Ms Charlie told AAP she was happy about the news.

"(Carole) has been here for six years now, because there is no adequate provision for her health care in her home community," Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said.

"With this announcement today, we might be able to change the dial on that."


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