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HST1111 Population Health: Three Indicators Of Health Status Which Apply To Indigenous Australian Women And Non-Indigenous Australian Women

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The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health in Australia remains unanticipated widely due to the health inequality between the two groups. Due to this, improving the health status of this group of people has been a challenge for the Australian Government. The "Australian Burden of Diseases Study” found that the Indigenous people have lost a total of 240,000 years of their healthy life due to imbalance of health (Aihw. 2022). The contributors to this situation include unequal healthcare access and inadequate health infrastructure. The Indigenous population from the Aboriginal and Torres Island had been counted as the minority group constituting only 3.3% of the total Australian population (Abs. 2022). This essay will point out three major indicators of health status and explain their contribution to the ill health of Aboriginal women. These indicators help in identifying the patterns and informing health issues in a selected population. The chosen indicators are race-specific infant mortality, rates of tobacco smoking and sexually active females receiving reproductive health. The essay will evaluate the differences in the health status of the aboriginal people due to these factors with reference to statistical data.

Infant mortality

The first health status indicator to be explored in the essay is infant mortality which points out the number of infant deaths in every 1000 successful births. The rate of indigenous infant deaths is 5.1, which is 1.8 times higher than that of non-aboriginal infant deaths (Ctgreport. 2022). Maternal health has been declared as the key factor behind this rate, and most of the deaths occurred due to perinatal conditions. Perinatal complications have contributed to almost 49% of infant deaths, for which the mothers have been held accountable. In addition, the breastfeeding rate in Aboriginal women is 75%, compared to 98% in the non-aboriginal population. World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of 6 months, the lack of which declines the infant's health. Repetitive complication in the infant health might be considered a result of inadequate breastfeeding, which makes them more susceptible to infections. Severe cases of infection might push the infants on the verge of mortality and this contributes to the rising death rates. As mentioned by Kotz et al. (2021), the contributors include birth trauma, pregnancy complications, fetal growth disorders, and cardiovascular and respiratory disorders. The decline in the health of pregnant women has been triggered by factors like increased smoking during pregnancy, poor maternal health, unequal access to birthing services and social disadvantage.

The high likelihood of Aboriginal women sustaining in crowded housing influences maternal health. However, the aboriginal infant death rate has been significantly lower than the rest of the Australian population (Williams et al. 2019). In contrast to 42% of infant deaths in the non-aboriginal population, the rate of infant death in the aboriginal population has been 40% (Aihw. 2022). The increase in child death rates has been identified as the reason behind the declining infant death rate. The gaps in infant mortality rates between indigenous and non-indigenous mothers have also been a result of “sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)”. As per Turienzo et al. (2019), accidents, injuries and complications during pregnancy have been considered as effective factors behind Aboriginal infant deaths. Besides, factors like diabetes, obesity and hypertension are also risk factors during pregnancy. The common complaints of the Aboriginal women mainly concern healthcare access. The ignorance faced by the healthcare staff, communication gaps due to language differences, distance of healthcare centers, racism and poverty, are included in the list. Almost 10% of the Aboriginal population has complained of being deprived of antenatal care, and 35% have complained about the presence of unskilled professionals during birth (Unfpa. 2022). These factors represent the discrimination faced by Aboriginal women and the unequal health access that contributes to the increasing infant rates.

Tobacco smoking rates

The likelihood of smoking in the Aboriginal population is almost 3 times that in the non-aboriginal population. As said by Moxham et al. (2021), tobacco smoking has been the most important contributor to ill health. Smoking has been responsible for causing at least 1 out of every 5 deaths in the Aboriginal population. Besides, 1/3rd of the cancer cases in the population have been triggered by tobacco smoking. The smoking rate in the Aboriginal population is 26.4%, while that of the rest of the population is 10.1% (Health. 2022). The main reason behind this concerning data is the social norms prevailing in the region that exposes people to this habit at an early stage. Besides, poverty leads to quitting school or unemployment, and this social disadvantage triggers the habit (Guy et al. 2018). In women, factors like housing stress and other stressors make them indulge in the habit.

The stress factors include taking care of a massive family within a small housing and cultural norms. As per the data of 2019 HealthStats, 43.2% of Aboriginal women smoke during their pregnancy in comparison to 7.1% of non-aboriginal women (Health. 2022). Smoking has been the socially sanctioned psychological retaliation of the Aboriginal women to the stress during their pregnancy. 42% of the indigenous mothers have reported smoking in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, while 38% reported it after 20 weeks (Aihw. 2022). In addition to the stress factor, the influence factor plays a significant role here. Smoking has been a way of socializing for the Aboriginal women in the midst of their life crisis faced due to gender discrimination. In addition, the lack of concern of the family members pushes the women on the edge of this harmful habit.

Sexually active females receiving reproductive health services

Sexual health is a taboo in some of the Aboriginal communities, due to which the communication regarding sexual behaviour is limited. The "World Health Organisation (WHO)” defines sexual health as a state of physical, mental, emotional and social well-being in relation to sexuality (Who. 2022). The primary barrier to sexual healthcare in adolescent women of Aboriginal and Torres Island is the lack of knowledge regarding whom to refer for health advice. Almost 74.5% of aboriginal women are sexually active, but less than half take professional guidance regarding sexual health (Healthin. 2022). The lack of knowledge regarding sexual infections, symptoms and health consequences also affects sexual health. Accessing sexual health-related information is problematic for aboriginal people due to language barriers, and some find it embarrassing to repeat their sexual life to professionals (Ward et al. 2019). The social stigma attached to the lives of Aboriginal women makes it difficult for them to approach professionals in a sexual health clinic.

Distance poses another challenge for aboriginal women in accessing healthcare services. 80% of sexually transmitted diseases have been observed in women from remote locations (Aihw. 2022). The treatment and medication costs fear of treatment and culturally unresponsive services contribute to the issue. Besides, maintaining confidentiality is a problem in small communities of the Aboriginal people, due to which the women avoid healthcare services, even in cases of severe conditions. Almost 9% of the cases of Chlamydia in Australia have been happening in the Aboriginal population, while that of gonorrhea has been 20% (Aihw. 2022). This rate is 30 times higher than that of non-Aboriginal women. The most concerning problem is sexual assault faced by a major percentage of aboriginal women who fail to convey the issue due to social barriers.


The purpose of this essay has been to evaluate the contribution of the three health indicators, sexual health, tobacco smoking and infant mortality, in differentiating Indigenous health from the rest of the Australian population. The essay has highlighted that the infant mortality rates in the Aboriginals are considerably higher, as is the percentage of women tobacco smokers. Sexual health is inadequately focused in the region due to different social and technical factors. The findings highlight that the health g

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