The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) recently held their regular meeting to discuss various matters relating to the availability and use of rural and remote health data. As always it was a productive meeting.
The AIHW reported on the opportunities that could result as it makes even greater use of online access to its data and reports, ensuring that it remains 'user-friendly'. With the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) only a few weeks into operation, discussions are being held as to how the Institute can assist with the development of reporting criteria to meet the various needs of the PHNs. Australia's welfare is being published this week. The Institute is also preparing for next year's Australia's Health 2016 (an essential look at our nation's health) for tabling in the Parliament in July next year. There will also be new data on Indigenous cardiovascular disease and diabetes released by the end of the year.
The Alliance reported on the 13th National Rural Health Conference and how delegates reiterated the absolute need for accurate data to identify areas of need and to underpin actions to meet them. We also reported on the upcoming CouncilFest, on the Caring for Country Kids Conference being run jointly with Children's Healthcare Australasia and to be held in Alice Springs, 17-19 April 2016.
Planning is also beginning for the 5th Rural and Remote Health Scientific Symposium to be held around the middle of 2016. CEO, Gordon Gregory, shared some thoughts on the key elements of the Government's reform agenda and the implications these could have for the delivery of health services in rural and remote Australia.
An informative exchange of ideas followed with the discussion of recent AIHW reports and how they have helped shape and support the Alliance's recent policy work. There are some exciting developments in the analysis of health data by rurality that will be of great assistance in the future. We were especially pleased to learn of developments in data analysis and reporting around Indigenous health. The AIHW was pleased to hear confirmation of the value placed on its work by our Council members.
It is clear that the health of people living in rural and remote Australia is still firmly on the Institute's radar. Everyone the room was committed to contributing in their own way to the better health of those outside of the major cities. By luck, design, or coincidence all of those at the meeting had a rural background, having grown up in small/medium sized country towns. The professional dedication and personal interest in rural and remote health underpins the strong collaboration between the NRHA and AIHW.