Expert panel to help reduce kidney transplant barriers

Expert panel to help reduce kidney transplant barriers


An expert panel will investigate and identify any barriers faced by First Nations people in need of kidney donations, to help ensure equity of access to lifesaving and life changing transplants.

Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM said Turnbull Government funding of $250,000 would allow the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) to lead a comprehensive review into the hurdles, service gaps and practical challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients receiving treatment for renal disease.

“Ensuring transplant equity is fundamental to fairness and Closing the Gap in health equality,” Minister Wyatt said.

“We know our First Nations people have substantially higher rates of end-stage kidney disease but are much less likely to receive a kidney transplant."

“By identifying the barriers and developing a national framework to address them, this panel can advise on an integrated model of care to change and save lives.”

People with kidney failure have two kidney replacement therapy options – dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Minister Wyatt said that, in December 2016, there were 1,987 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians receiving such therapy.

“Of these, 13 per cent had received a kidney transplant, compared with 50 per cent of other Australians, revealing that First Nations people were nine times as likely to be reliant on dialysis,” said Minister Wyatt.

“While the Turnbull Government is funding improvements to dialysis services and renal disease prevention measures in regional and remote communities, our commitment to transplant access is absolute.”

The panel will comprise people with expertise in working in community, clinical settings, research and public policy and will consult widely across First Nations communities and the health and transplantation sectors.

“I have heard many moving stories of the trauma and heartache caused by renal disease, including in my own family,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This review aims to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander transplant rates, reduce the burden of regular dialysis and give more First Nations people the chance to live fulfilling lives on country and in their communities.”

The panel’s work will help inform development of a long-term strategy for organ donation, retrieval and transplantation being undertaken by the Commonwealth, as agreed by the COAG Health Council. It is hoped the strategy will be ready for consideration by COAG in 2019.

Funding for TSANZ for the project is provided under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP).

The Turnbull Government is investing $3.9 billion in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health over the next four years, with the IAHP providing comprehensive, high-quality and culturally appropriate primary health care services across the nation.

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