Evaluation of anaemia management in three remote Indigenous communities in the Katherine East region, NT

Health practitioners in the remote Katherine East region are not sure why anaemia in young children is so common in Indigenous communities.

What they do know is low haemoglobin levels in children under the age of two years can cause delays in cognitive development, which then affects their schooling and health.

A health organisation successfully rolled out an anaemia prevention program in one community, and wants to identify the key components of this program to replicate it in other communities.

Our Child Health division was tasked with performing this program evaluation. We will identify the major contributors to the development of anaemia, and potentially change best practice guidelines when it comes to anaemia prevention.

“If we identify the major contributors to childhood anaemia, we will then be able to develop local and targeted interventions that are specific to the NT population,” said lead investigator, Dr Therese Kearns.

“A quarter of the children in most remote Indigenous communities are anaemic by six months of age, and we want to identify what causes this and prevent it from happening in the future.”

Two particular areas of interest are the prevention of anaemia in pregnant mothers, and the use of oral iron supplementation in children under six months of age.