Former president of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine Dr Ewen McPhee.
Former president of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine Dr Ewen McPhee.

CQ doctor responds to region’s heart health concerns

EMERALD doctor and former president of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine Dr Ewen McPhee was not surprised by today's news that Central Queensland topped the nation's poor heart health charts.

"This is all very consistent with what I would expect to see, and really there's no surprise here," he said.

"Rural and regional areas do suffer from these sorts of issues and particularly they're also related to higher rates of smoking, alcohol overuse, diabetes as a consequence and chronic liver disease.

"This research highlights the important of investing in regional general practice and primary care that is affordable as well as accessible."

Dr McPhee said there were systemic, long-standing public health problems across regional Australia that were exacerbated on several fronts.

He said he considered it not primarily as a problem of individual responsibility, but one of politics and economics.

"The further remote you go, the harder it is to see a GP, and that's because there's fewer and fewer GPs available in rural and remote Queensland," Dr McPhee said.

"This has been a long-going and abiding problem in rural Australia for a very, very long time. "The fact is we have to bite the bullet and acknowledge that rural Australians generally have significant public health issues. Far greater investment is needed at local, state, and national levels in regional, rural, and remote primary care."

Dr McPhee said "critical enablers" that would go towards solving the problem included health literacy, access to affordable fresh food, and availability of safe and affordable exercise.

"The more remote you go the harder it is to access gyms, the harder it is to see support people like dietitians, the harder it is to get fresh food, and good food, and to be able to afford it," he said, adding that poverty aggravated the situation.

"Higher blood pressure is associated with poor diet, higher levels of stress, and occupations that mean that you're less able to exercise."

He recommended people concerned about their health got a check up.


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