Childhood anaemia common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children in remote Far North Queensland
Almost 62% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote communities in Far North Queensland were found to be anaemic at age 6-23 months in a study published yesterday by Dympna Leonard from James Cook University and her colleagues (see full report here
Anaemia in children can impact brain development, growth and educational attainment. The most common cause of anaemia is iron deficiency. Frequent infections are another cause of anaemia.
More traditional foods like lean red meat, and shellfish as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables are important to prevent iron deficiency – and help fight infections too.
Apunipima Cape York Health Council is committed to working closely with communities in Cape York to address this challenging issue but it is clear from these new statistics that business as usual is not enough. More effort and resources need to be invested in prevention initiatives such as addressing food insecurity and promoting good nutrition as well as early intervention of anaemia. Additional targeted efforts will be required to address anaemia as a public health issue in remote Far North Queensland. There are some effective interventions used overseas that combine nutrition promotion with multi-micronutrient fortification.
Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s Baby One Program and Bump2Bubba Project is working closely with Cape York communities to raise awareness of childhood and maternal anaemia and jointly identify solutions to improve iron status.