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Call for better health info for migrants
Old 13th October 2010, 08:54 PM   #1
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Default Call for better health info for migrants

The nation's diabetes epidemic is biting deepest into migrant communities where, for some, coming to Australia was bad for their health.

Migrants from North Africa and the Middle East fare the worst for developing type 2 diabetes, with their incidence of the disease more than double that seen in the Australian-born population.

Dr Adele Murdolo said this heightened incidence of the lifestyle-related illness was "not reflected in their country of origin" and so it was all to do with adjusting to life in Australia.

"What happens for migrants is they come to Australia fairly healthy and then there is a fairly rapid deterioration of health after living for five to 10 years in Australia," said Dr Murdolo, spokeswoman for the Melbourne-based Multicultural Centre for Women's Health.

"Diabetes incidence is a part of that deterioration ... it is to do with migration, cultural differences, changes in lifestyle and lack of access to services."

Dr Murdolo said exposure to the high fat, sugar and salt of the Western diet played a significant role as did lower levels of exercise in migrant communities, the result of "working very long hours" as well a different take on exercise.

A woman walking alone could be viewed as having "nothing else to do" and an "idle person" within some migrant communities".

The other issue is safety, its not necessarily safe for women to go for a walk around the block in the evening when they might have the time to go," Dr Murdolo said.
Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) put the rate of type 2 diabetes in the broader Australian community at three per cent.

This was compared to seven per cent among migrants from northern Africa and Middle Eastern countries, around six per cent in those from South East Asia and five per cent in those from southern and eastern Europe.
Dr Murdolo said diabetes-related deaths in migrant communities were up to three times the rate seen in the broader community.

Despite this, many campaigns aimed at curbing diabetes were "mainstream" in focus and so important public health messages and information did not permeate migrant communities.

Dr Murdolo spoke on Wednesday at the launch of a new "tool kit" designed to help health and welfare service providers improve their reach into migrant communities.
"It's really about providing the information that the rest of the community already has ... in their language and delivered in a way that is meaningful," Dr Murdolo said.
"We need to have a more tailored approach to this and do it across Australia."

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