Statement on National Close the Gap Day
Today is National Close the Gap Day, celebrated across Australia each year on the third Thursday in March.
National Close the Gap Day is a national day of action to pledge support for achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equality. It is also a day to celebrate the resilience, innovation and success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
All pharmacists have a responsibility to provide health care that is culturally responsive and safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
In 2022, the Commonwealth Closing the Gap Annual Report outlined that there is more to be done towards achieving parity in a range of indicators. With health targets, the gap in life expectancy while trending in a positive direction is not on track.
A key recommendation arising from PSA’s Medicine Safety: Rural and Remote Care report was to embed pharmacists within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to deliver targeted and culturally safe care, improve medicine adherence and to address polypharmacy and other quality use of medicine issues. This aligns with the National Agreement on Closing the Gap Priority Reform Two, which focuses on building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled sector.
While ad-hoc funding provides some support for pharmacists to provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, there is a lack of discrete funding to support the integration of pharmacists within the primary care team of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
Despite this, and in co-design with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), PSA has released the Deadly Pharmacists Foundation Training Course. The course is designed to equip all pharmacists with the skills to deliver culturally sensitive care to First Nations people.
So far more than 770 pharmacists have enrolled to undertake the course, indicating a strong desire across the profession to better meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Pharmacists who have already enrolled in the course, but not yet completed it, are encouraged to do so. For those who haven’t yet enrolled, consider doing so.
In 2022 PSA released its Guideline for pharmacists supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with medicines management. This guideline marks a refreshed focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and well-being for the pharmacy sector. It offers all pharmacists an opportunity to develop professionally, expand their organisation or business’s impact, build relationships and grow personally. It also provides broader guidance for how enhancing medicines management can improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.