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January 2022

Aust Paediatr J. 1984 Mar; 20(1): 57-8.

Primary health care for Indo-Chinese children in Australia.

Chak S, Nixon J, Dugdale A.

This study reports the detailed analysis of 61 consecutive presentations by recent immigrants from Indo-China to the Casualty Department of a modern Australian Children's Hospital. The parents/guardians were interviewed either in the Casualty Department or in their homes. Indo-Chinese children coming to a Casualty Department manifested the same age distribution and spectrum of illnesses that is seen in the general Australian paediatric population. However, significantly fewer presentations to hospital occurred due to accidents/trauma when the group was compared with the general population attending the Casualty Department. Only 21% of the Vietnamese and Cambodian families can communicate satisfactorily with hospital staff without interpreter help. Fifty-one per cent of parents reported that they did not have enough English for a medical interview without an interpreter. Twenty-eight per cent did not have enough English to communicate at all. Parents of Vietnamese children reported that on occasions they had not sought medical care for their children because of language difficulties. Many families do not know that an Interpreter Service is available, and many believe that access to such a service is available only through a doctor. Many of these children also use traditional Chinese remedies in the context of their contemporary Australian lives. We have found no evidence that this practice causes late presentation with deleterious effects, or any evidence that it compromises modern 'Western' treatment.

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