A project which will focus specifically on the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous populations has been bolstered by a $2 million donation.
The research led by Professor Adrian Miller, an Indigenous Health Researcher from Townsville’s CQ University, will examine the unique challenges First Nations people face if COVID-19 breaks out in an isolated community.
The risk of infection and disease already runs high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which is believed to put them in the at-risk category when it comes to the novel coronavirus.
“We know from our research that influenza in general, let alone a special, novel virus like COVID-19 will have a huge impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” Prof. Miller said.
Access to public health and public housing is another issue which puts remote communities on the back-foot during a pandemic.
“The other issues that Indigenous people face is that it’s really hard to do social distancing when you’ve got limited housing options,” Prof. Miller said.
Prof. Miller is hoping to find solutions to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 in the event of an epidemic in a remote community.
He admits the research team is racing against the clock.
“We’re hoping within weeks, we’re going to meet weekly and come up with a set of priorities,” he said.
There are currently no cases of COVID-19 north of Cairns.
The Cape and Torres Strait councils banned travel into their communities early in the pandemic to prevent COVID-19 being brought in.
The research money was given to the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE) COVID-19 team by the Paul Ramsay Foundation.
Prof. Miller has reached out to the National Health and Medical Research Council for further funding.
He has also approached other leading Indigenous academics around the country to help with the research.
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