Four local Aboriginal Health Workers (AHW) are the latest graduates of a program which teaches them how to administer vaccinations to children.
The four health workers graduated last week after taking part in the two week course at the Aboriginal Health Council of WA (AHCWA) in Highgate.
Two of the course participants work at the Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service in Perth, while one works at Nidjalla Waangan Mia, which delivers services in the Peel region.
AHCWA launched the training program for Aboriginal Health Workers in partnership with the Communicable Disease Control Directorate (CDCD) at the Department of Health in March last year.
So far, the program has been rolled out in a number of locations including Perth, Port Hedland, Roebourne and Broome, and 22 Aboriginal Health Workers have been trained to administer and promote immunisation.
“Until this program was launched, only nurses and doctors were authorised to carry out immunisations,” said AHCWA Chairperson Michelle Nelson-Cox.
“The benefit of also training Aboriginal Health Workers is that they can relate to Aboriginal children and gain the trust of parents in order to educate them about the importance of immunisation.”
Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Acting CEO Neil O’Donnell congratulated his staff members on graduating from the course.
“This will add to the great health services delivered by DYHS to the community operating in a culturally secure environment,” he said.
The State Government has released figures suggesting the program has already contributed to increasing immunisation rates among Aboriginal children.
The figures show Aboriginal immunisation rates in 5 year olds have exceeded those of non-Aboriginal children, with 94.3% of Aboriginal children now vaccinated.
“We are thrilled that it appears this training has already contributed to immunisation rates among Aboriginal children increasing significantly,” said Ms Nelson-Cox.
“The figures show that the immunisation rate among Aboriginal children increased from 91.3% in the September quarter to 94.3% in the December quarter, and we hope to see that rate has increased even further when we receive the latest figures.”
Ms Nelson-Cox said the training program would be expanded this year and she hoped it could be rolled out to several remote locations later in the year.
“We have received an overwhelming response from our Aboriginal Medical Services, who see the value in their Aboriginal Health Workers being trained to administer immunisations,” she said.
“We are working hard to meet the demand for the course, and we hope that the more Aboriginal Health Workers we can train, the higher the immunisation rates will be.”
The next course will take place in Geraldton this week.
Note: an immunisation rate of about 95% is required to effectively prevent outbreaks of highly infectious diseases.