Living on Medicine: A Cultural Study of End-stage Renal Failure in Aboriginal People
Between 1987 and 1993 the number of new kidney dialysis patients in the Northern Territory doubled, and then doubled again. Ninety per cent of those patients were Aboriginal. In some areas, it is said that renal disease has reached epidemic proportions. Prompted by the growing sense of anxiety within Central Australian Aboriginal communities, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and the Menzies School of Health Research initiated an investigation into the situation of Aboriginal renal patients. In interviews with 57 patients and their families, communities and medical carers, Jeannie Devitt and Anthony McMasters have delved beyond the statistics. They present a report that illuminates not just the 'social cost' of kidney disease in Central Australian Aboriginal communities, but the extraordinary difficulties - physical, cultural, geographical - faced by Aboriginal renal patients, and the equally extraordinary tenacity with which they tackle them. A collection of selected and expanded interviews from this report is published by IAD Press as On the Machine.
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