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Letter to the editor

Editor, – Australian Aboriginal children experience the highest rates of bacterial respiratory diseases reported in the literature and often have poor treatment outcomes.1

Many tribal Aborigines are now sending their children to schools in capital cities. The children are set up in accommodation, often without adult supervision.Volunteers assist in everyday activities including attempting to oversee nutritional and medication needs.

These children are at risk of being unable to take their medications. In their home environment, they are used to having any medications given to them directly by bush health professionals.

In the urban situation, a child from a tribal environment who is prescribed an antibiotic to be taken three times daily for a number of days is just not going to do it. It has been the experience of volunteers who visit these children that unless they are there to give the medication, it is not going to be taken. Taking medicines themselves is just not part of the children's culture.

My plea would be to all prescribers to attempt to think of once-daily alternatives to multiple daily doses. Additionally, pharmacists dispensing for these children should be aware of limitations under which the volunteers operate and a discreet telephone call to the prescriber might be in order.

Associate Professor Louis Roller
Department of Pharmacy Practice
Monash University


  1. Leach AJ, Morris PS. Perspectives on infective ear disease in indigenous Australian children. J Paed Child Health 2001;37:529-30.