1Rural Clinical School Of WA, Kalgoorlie, Australia

The Western Desert Kidney Health project (WDKHP) was an innovative research project that grew from the despair of the Aboriginal people of the Goldfields of Western Australia and their desire to understand more about diabetes and renal disease.
Aims: To determine the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2DM), kidney disease and the risk factors for these diseases in Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal adults and children in a remote area of Western Australia and to compare those prevalence rates with national rates
Methods: The WDKHP was a community based participatory research project featuring annual cross sectional surveys over 3 years. It was conducted in 5 towns and 5 remote Aboriginal communities over lands of people of Western Desert Language groups. Participation was offered to all people regardless of age or ethnicity.
Results: Almost 80% of the Aboriginal population (n=818) and 12% (n=297) of non-Aboriginal population completed at least one health assessment.The WDKHP found higher than predicted rates of T2DM, hypertension, haematuria, aciduria and elevated ACR in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants. Risk factors were found in children as young as 2 years. There was no difference between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.
Conclusion: The rates of T2DM, hypertension and markers for kidney disease for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants were higher than expected suggesting ethnicity might be less important that environmental and lifestyle factors. Drinking water in many remote areas does not comply with national and international safety standards and needs to be considered as a contributing factors in renal disease.

Dr Christine Jeffries-Stokes is a Paediatrician who has been working in clinical practice and research in the Goldfields of Western Australia for more than 20 years. She has a PhD and a Masters in Public Health.

Annette Stokes is a senior woman of the Wongutha Tribe of the Eastern Goldfields. She has been integral to several major health and research projects in the Goldfields region and her contribution to medicine was recognised in 2018 was awarded an Order of Australia (AM). Annette and Christine are sisters in law.

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