CANBERRA, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Australia's opposition leader has promised to invest 115 million Australian dollars (82.48 million U.S. dollars) in resolving indigenous health issues if he wins May's general election.
Bill Shorten, leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), announced the funding while on a campaign trail in Darwin on Thursday, saying that Australia's indigenous people "have the right to grow old," according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Included in the proposed package is 13 million Australian dollars (9.3 million U.S. dollars) to prevent vision loss and 25 million Australian dollars (17.9 million U.S. dollars) to address rheumatic heart disease, a condition that kills 100 indigenous children annually.
Shorten said that the funding would "ensure that First Australians experience the most fundamental right of all: the right to grow old."
"Improving the health status of First Australians is critical to our journey towards reconciliation," he said.
"This country has to be the best we can be in the way that we offer the same opportunities to all Australians. When First Australians have lesser health outcomes then all of Australia is diminished.
"Every Australian, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, should have access to the health services they need, where and when they need them.
"Wholly preventable eye diseases and blindness should be unacceptable in a developed nation like Australia."
Rheumatic heart disease is entirely preventable but children in remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory have the highest rates of the disease in the world.