The loss of Australia’s most prominent indigenous musician Dr G Yunupingu to kidney disease has shone a light on the “largely preventable” renal health nightmare afflicting remote communities, his doctor says.
The 46-year-old blind Yolngu singer died last month in Darwin while undergoing dialysis treatment, as there was no services available in his Galiwink’u community on Elcho Island.
His specialist, Dr Paul Lawton told Garma Festival that many indigenous Australians have to travel hundreds of kilometres for end-stage renal therapy, which he describes as a “nightmare” akin to purgatory.
Aboriginal people are up to seven times more likely to need treatment for the chronic illness than their non-indigenous Australians.
Dr Lawton told the ABC some of the major issues attributable to worsened health – including overcrowding, lack of access to good quality food and education about health – are avoidable.
Last year, four Arnhem Land Aboriginal community organisations raised $680,000 to expand on-country dialysis support in the region, and are calling on the Northern Territory and federal governments to match that funding.