Overview:
• The WA Country Health Service (WACHS) offered free vaccines to children aged 0-4 and 15-19 after an outbreak of meningococcal disease in the Goldfields reporting five cases over the past two months. Parents have rushed to take advantage of the biggest emergency vaccination campaign in Western Australia’s history with more than 1,500 doses of vaccine administered in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Coolgardie and Kambalda.

• As many as 388,000 Australians will lose access to free dental services next year under changes announced by Health Minister Sussan Ley as a result of decreasing allotted budget by the government. The Child Dental Benefits Schedule will be modified, with the maximum benefits available to eligible children to be reduced from $1,000 to $700 over two years.

• The University of Queensland (UQ) research, which explores how stem cells with a gene mutation behave, may explain what leads to brain overgrowth — a characteristic of Sotos Syndrome and Marshall Smith Syndrome. Lead author Lachlan Harris said the research was a significant contribution to understanding how the brain develops, and could help patients better understand their condition.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  16th of December 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-15/wa-goldfields-vaccines-take-up-after-meningococcal-outbreak/8125084

Parents have rushed to take advantage of the biggest emergency vaccination campaign in Western Australia’s history after an outbreak of meningococcal disease in the Goldfields.

The WA Country Health Service (WACHS) said more than 1,500 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Coolgardie and Kambalda since the emergency vaccination program began on Monday.

The WA Government made the unprecedented decision to offer the free vaccines to children aged 0-4 and 15-19 after an outbreak of the W-strain of the disease in the region, with five cases reported over the past two months.

WACHS Goldfields public health physician Dr Clare Huppatz said progress had been positive so far.

With free vaccines restricted to children in specific age brackets, Dr Huppatz said a number of parents had been querying the criteria.

The situation has prompted calls for subsidisation for all strains of the disease, with meningococcal-C the only variety currently covered free of charge by the National Immunisation Register.

Beyond the vaccination program, doctors in the Goldfields and around the state remain on high alert.

As a notifiable infectious disease, potential outbreaks and meningococcal symptoms are reported immediately.

Reported cases of meningococcal have spiked in Western Australia this year, with the W-strain the most prevalent.

In the case of the Goldfields outbreak, five cases in the space of two months raised an immediate red flag with health authorities.

All five patients are currently being monitored and are expected to make a full recovery.

The vaccines will be available across Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Coolgardie and Kambalda until March 31.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-15/dental-cuts-will-‘hurt-the-most-vulnerable’,-experts-say/8124814

As many as 388,000 Australians will lose free dental care under changes announced by Health Minister Sussan Ley, experts say.

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association chief executive Alison Verhoeven said the 2013-14 Budget promised $391 million in 2016-17 for public dental services.

“Since then, this was reduced to about $155 million in calendar year 2016, and now it’s down to less than $107 million per year,” she said.

“This will result in as many as 338,000 people losing access to public dental services from next year.”

She said it was “harsh and particularly heartless” the Government had seen fit to “compromise the dental health of those Australians least able to afford” proper dental care.

Ms Ley announced changes to federal funding arrangements for dental services from January 1 next year.

She said the new federal funding for adult public dental services would enable states to treat at least 370,000 additional patients.

The Child Dental Benefits Schedule will be modified, with the maximum benefits available to eligible children to be reduced from $1,000 to $700 over two years.

She said the changes to the child dental scheme better reflected patterns of use, which showed most children claimed well below the $1,000 cap.

Ms Ley said the Government made changes to the existing Child Dental Benefits Schedule to keep it sustainable.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-15/sotos-syndrome-brain-disorder-gene-research-university-of-qld/8122372

Australian research is giving some answers to thousands of people worldwide with a rare and debilitating genetic disorder that causes their brains to develop unusually.

The University of Queensland (UQ) research, which explores how stem cells with a gene mutation behave, may explain what leads to brain overgrowth — a characteristic of Sotos Syndrome and Marshall Smith Syndrome.

Lead author Lachlan Harris said the research was a significant contribution to understanding how the brain develops, and could help patients better understand their condition.

UQ brain expert Dr Michael Piper said little information was available to parents of patients with these conditions.

“The new information can help provide better diagnostic information and counselling to parents whose unborn child has a mutation in this gene,” he said.

“We can let them know some of the things that are likely to happen in advance so they can prepare themselves earlier.”

In Australia, Sotos or Marshall Smith syndrome affects one in 14,000, or about 1,500 people.

The research is published in [the] international journal Development.



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