A Salisbury birthing program focused on the best health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies has been recognised by a renowned international science journal.
The Lancet Global Health featured the Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) program, which ran for more than seven years. The program saw a significant decrease in deaths during baby deliveries and admittance to neonatal care for high-risk First Nations babies. It also saw through the improvements of breastfeeding awareness among First Nations mums.
The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane (ATSICHS Brisbane) worked with Mater Mothers’ Hospital to establish this program in 2013 in Salisbury, as the experts recognised that standard health services in the country are often unable to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“Even though First Nations health is a national priority, there has been no change in babies being born preterm – or too soon – since Closing the Gap in 2008,” Charles Darwin University Professor in Midwifery Sue Kildea said in a statement on the Lancet Journal. “We have evidence, gathered over seven years, that culturally safe birthing services significantly improve the health of Indigenous mothers and babies.”
Also involved in the program were dieticians and diabetes educators, aside from women’s health experts. There are also various staff members helping out the new mums who may need assistance from other departments, such as housing.
Because of the success of the BiOC model, Indigenous women now have access to wider care to support their health and well-being. The study experts, however, recommended that health services for First Nations communities must be given Federal Government access like Medicare so mums and babies can benefit from the best midwifery services.
IUIH CEO Adrian Carson plans to expand BiOC to north Brisbane, Logan and the bayside next before going national.