Hawkesbury women receive care

Women in the Nepean-Blue Mountains Medicare local (NBMML) area are receiving some of the best antenatal care in Australia, according to a government report released last week.

The National Health Performance Authority report on child and maternal health, 2009-2012, revealed that pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women fare better in the NBMML region than anywhere else in Australia with 80.5 per cent receiving at least one antenatal visit in the first 13 weeks. 

Topping the list of 61 Medicare Locals across Australia for the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who had at least one antenatal visit, NBMML also came second in the league tables for all women who were visited at least once.

An antenatal visit in the first trimester is important for monitoring the health of the mothers and babies to identifying complications early in the pregnancy.

Dr Shiva Prakash, NBMML Board Chair, credits the Blue Mountains-based Aboriginal Healthy for Life program for ensuring Aboriginal women are seen by a doctor or midwife in the first trimester.

‘‘The close relationship between local doctors, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, the Blue Mountains and Penrith Women’s Health Centres and the Aboriginal Coalition leading the Healthy for Life program has amounted to these excellent results,” Dr Prakash said.

Chief Executive of Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, Kay Hyman, said she was pleased to see that local initiatives were successfully linking Aboriginal women with appropriate antenatal services during the early stages of their pregnancy.

Other findings show that 2.6 babies per 1000 who are born in NBMML area will die before their first birthday.

That is better than some Sydney metropolitan, western and south-western Sydney areas, Ms Hyman said.

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