A PODIATRIST passionate about improving the health of Aboriginal patients is the Rotary Allied Health Podiatrist of the Year.
Jo Scheepers works with Moorditj Djena offering foot care and diabetes education to Aboriginal people in such suburbs as Girrawheen, Joondalup, Wanneroo and Clarkson.
Moorditj Djena means ‘strong feet’ and Ms Scheepers runs the program set up to address recommendations in a high-risk foot model of care, through permanent and mobile clinics in the northern suburbs.
The Health Department sponsored her emigration to Australia in 2006 after a working holiday in 2004. She works for the North Metropolitan Health Service.
“The Moorditj Djena program is absolutely essential to help Aboriginal people who might not have previously had access to this sort of care,” she said.
“Research in 2010 showed that Aboriginal people with diabetes in WA are up to 38 times more likely to have a toe or leg amputated than non-Aboriginal people with diabetes.
“Regular podiatry treatment and diabetes education is essential in preventing foot ulcers, infections and stays in hospital.
“Diabetes-related foot complications cost the Australian health system over $600 million every year.
“Establishing community and hospital based multi-disciplinary programs such as Moorditj Djena could half the annual cost to the government, save 600 lives, 3000 legs as well as make an enormous difference to a patient’s quality of life.”
The program itself won a WA Health Award for ‘partnering for better outcomes in Aboriginal health’.
Accepting the award, Ms Scheepers said that without local community support, the program would not have been as successful.