Towards the control of scabies and associated skin infections in Western Australia's remote Aboriginal communities: A Community-based approach

  • Hendrickx, David, (PhD Student)
  • Boelaert, Marleen, (Promotor)
  • Walker, Roz (Promotor)
  • Carapetis, Jonathan (Copromotor)

Project Details


The aim of this project is to document for the first time the extent to which scabies and associated skin infections are a public health issue in Western Australia’s remote Aboriginal communities and to identify comprehensive, culturally secure and sustainable ways of improving its control in these settings. Although a significant body of scholarly work on this topic exists for the Northern Territory [1–8] and --‐to a lesser extent--‐ Queensland [9–11], no similar work has been undertaken in Western Australia up to this point. Nevertheless, anecdotal evidence from researchers, healthcare providers and educators that has been documented in community--‐based research projects [12] strongly suggests that many Aboriginal communities in Western Australia are suffering a significant health burden due to scabies. The health implications are more far--‐reaching than the initial scabies infection, as secondary bacterial infections of the damaged skin can lead to severe complications, most notably chronic renal and heart disease [1,9,13,14]. Scabies control interventions in the Northern Territory have been reasonably successful in lowering scabies prevalence, at least in the short term [3,6–8,15]. Their experiences illustrate the importance of engaging the community in the intervention implementation process and also highlight some key challenges, such as limited treatment uptake and sustainability, which must be considered in any future interventions. This PhD project, which will be embedded within a comprehensive ‘healthy skin, healthy lives’ program for Aboriginal communities, aims to inform the development and implementation of scabies control initiatives in Western Australia’s remote Aboriginal communities by documenting (i) the disease burden of scabies and associated skin infections in WA’s Aboriginal communities; (ii) the communities’ perceptions, knowledge and healthcare seeking behavior in regard to such infections; (iii) the clinical practices of healthcare providers and the challenges they experience in the management of scabies and related skin infections, as well as successes and lessons learnt. The data collected through these activities will inform an ongoing participatory consultation process that will involve community representatives and other key stakeholders in the development and periodic evaluation of the WA ‘healthy skin, healthy lives’ program.
Effective start/end date10/07/1330/04/18

IWETO expertise domain

  • B680-public-health