Our Healthy Skin Program

The Healthy Skin Program aims to realise the elimination of scabies as a health problem throughout Australia. See our results here (.pdf).

The Healthy Skin Program addresses the alarming inequality between the incidence and prevalence of scabies and skin diseases amongst non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australian communities. While scabies is virtually unheard-of to most Australians, a subset of our population suffers in silence.

MEDICINE IS NOT ENOUGH

The Healthy Skin Program is built on a foundation of strong medical science, proven by our partner, the Menzies School of Health Research. However, we believe that having an effective medical treatment is not enough.

A recent Australian Government report on Indigenous program expenditures over the last decade highlights that all too often programs have been poorly implemented with limited community engagement, resulting in limited outcomes. Conversely, where best-practice principles of community engagement are implemented and the existing strengths within individual communities are enhanced, rather than overlooked or undermined, localised islands of excellence have emerged.

LEARNING FROM PAST SUCCESSES

One Disease at a Time is determined to grow by adopting proven key principles for success in Indigenous health programming.

National and international programs have demonstrated that well-run Healthy Skin Programs can have significant and sustained impacts on scabies rates in endemic areas. Our program implements proven community engagement and medical models, based on work in the community of Wadeye by Mary Elizabeth Dulla, Angela Ninnal, Margaret Mary Cumaiyi, Loyola Kolumboort as well as Dr. Li-Chuen Wong who implemented arguably one of the most effective and sustained scabies elimination programs ever seen in Australia One Disease at a Time will solve the challenge of transforming localized success into national success, by taking an approach which can be replicated effectively across multiple communities, whilst also being flexible and locally-adapted.

Success stories in scabies control :
Dr Li-Chuen Wong

Dr Wong was involved with a 5 year long community-owned and community-led program to reduce Scabies in the community of Wadeye.  The program was able to reduce scabies from 35% to under 3% and led to significant reductions in scabies-related illnesses.

Dr Wong is a consultant dermatologist at the Children’s Hospital in Westmead, Sydney.  We are lucky enough to have her advising the Steering Committee of the Healthy Skin Program.  Dr Wong’s wisdom and experience informs much of One Disease at a Time’s program development.