Indigenous more vulnerable to swine flu
Updated: 13:39, Tuesday February 28, 2012
Indigenous more vulnerable to swine flu

Another swine flu outbreak would result in avoidable deaths because authorities have failed to focus on the specific needs of Aboriginal people, a researcher is warning.

Indigenous people had a five times higher risk of death than non-indigenous Australians during the 2009 outbreak of the H1N1 influenza pandemic.

'Australia's current plans are inadequate,' says Professor Adrian Miller, from Southern Cross University's Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples.

'To our dismay the National Pandemic Influenza Plan, released in 2010, did not target indigenous people as a special risk group.'

Prof Miller told AAP that Aboriginal and Torres Strait populations suffered during the 2009 swine flu outbreak.

'Aboriginal people's current health status is very poor given the amount of chronic disease in communities and families,' Professor Miller said.

'If you're combating diseases already, and then you have another disease like influenza, you are more detrimentally affected.

'Indigenous people make up only 2.5 per cent of the population but they accounted for 17 per cent of swine flu-related hospital admissions and 12 per cent of deaths.'

Prof Miller called for health education programs targeting vulnerable indigenous people during the flu season, and in the event of another swine flu outbreak.

It was also important for indigenous people to get vaccinated, he said...