A solid foundation in improving indigenous health is needed before focusing on employment, training and education, the AMA says.
Unless government policy targets indigenous health as a priority, it will continue to struggle to get kids into school and adults into jobs, the president of the AMA says.
Professor Brian Owler is visiting health bodies and clinics in Alice Springs and in remote Aboriginal communities this week to see how health services are delivered locally so the AMA can shape its own policy.
He said the Closing the Gap report handed down last week indicated there was still a lot of work to do, and that there had been a lack of policy attention on health.
"The focus has often been on education, employment and training, but I think we need to get back to seeing health as the foundation that underpins all those things; unless we improve the health outcomes those issues will remain," Prof Owler told AAP on Wednesday.
The report showed that the life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians wasn't closing at a fast enough rate, although infant mortality is on track to be halved by 2018.
A lack of health policy direction likely stemmed from issues fatigue, he said.
"People get fatigued about the seemingly overwhelming problems that are faced; sometimes it becomes a bit easier to focus on other things that are a more in our control, that are a bit more tangible, and those things are making kids go to school and putting people in training programs," he said.
"They're really important, but I think we need to get back to some of those basic things and some of the social determinants of health, such as access to healthy food, clean water, decent housing, there are certainly those issues that still exist in the NT (and can be improved)."