Health News – 5 Nov 2014

Overview

  • The Federal Government is expected to step up its response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa today by announcing assistance for volunteers to travel to the region.
  • A private company has shut down a cutting-edge medical imaging machine in Tasmania after state and federal governments spent millions to offer the same service.
  • Namibia’s Supreme Court says HIV-positive women have been forcibly sterilised after giving birth, in a decision being hailed by activists as a victory for women throughout Africa.



Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 5th November 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-04/ebola-crisis-government-to-assist-australia-medical-staff/5866456

The Federal Government is … expected to announce plans to help Australian medical staff fight the Ebola virus in Africa.

The ABC has been told Cabinet’s National Security Committee had decided to assist volunteers who want to travel to Ebola hotspots in Sierra Leone.

For weeks the Government has refused to dispatch doctors or soldiers to West Africa unless it had “iron clad” commitments from other nations to evacuate medical staff who got infected with the deadly disease.

It is understood Australia has reached an agreement with the British government to treat Australian workers.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is expected to make the announcement …[today].

Any contribution from Australia, on top of funds already committed to the global effort against the virus, would be “prudent and proportionate”, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

The spokeswoman said Australia’s contribution would not involve the deployment of hundreds of Australians.

“Indeed, the Government will not direct Australians to deploy to the region,” she said.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has welcomed the reports.

Over the weekend AMA president Brian Owler accused the Government of running out of excuses for not helping send medical personnel.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-04/tas-loses-medical-technology-as-result-of-duplication-inquiry/5864366

A private company has shut down a cutting-edge medical imaging machine in Tasmania after state and federal governments spent millions to offer the same service.

A parliamentary inquiry into health has been told the debacle was an example of waste and poor planning in Tasmania’s health system.

Regional Imaging installed a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner at the Hobart Private Hospital in 2010.

A few months later, the public Royal Hobart Hospital next door installed its own machine to use for cancer diagnosis.

The equipment is used to diagnose cancer more accurately to enable doctors to better tailor a patient’s treatment.

Mark Simpson from Regional Imaging said the duplication meant the private scanner was not commercially viable and after about 18 months in Hobart it was sent interstate.

A Senate inquiry in Hobart was told the second scanner could have been based in the north to avoid duplication.

Mr Simpson told the inquiry better communication between the public and private health sector could have prevented the situation.

Cancer specialist Dr Rob Ware said patients were losing out.

Dr Ware also said the duplication could have been avoided if the Government had based the second scanner in the state’s north.

Greens Senator Christine Milne said it was a product of a faulty system.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-04/hiv-positive-women-forcibly-sterilised-in-namibia-court-says/5865692

Namibia’s Supreme Court says HIV-positive women have been forcibly sterilised after giving birth, in a decision being hailed by activists as a victory for women throughout Africa.

The southern African nation’s highest court dismissed a government appeal against a judgment holding it liable for sterilising three HIV-positive women in state hospitals without their informed consent.

Chief Justice Peter Shivute ruled the doctors should not have sterilised the women and ordered damages be considered for the victims who each claimed one million rand ($A104,000).

Namibian Women’s Health Network director Jennifer Gatsi Mallet applauded the decision, saying the cases were only the tip of the iceberg.

“We have documented dozens of cases of other HIV-positive women who have been forcibly sterilised. The government needs to take active steps to ensure all women subjected to this unlawful practice get redress,” she said.

Ms Mallet said the decision proved that public hospitals in Namibia had been coercively sterilising HIV-positive women without their consent.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre, which backed the women in their legal challenge, said the decision had far-reaching consequences for HIV-positive women throughout Africa who have been forcibly sterilised.

“This decision sends a clear message that governments throughout Africa must take concrete actions to end this practice,” deputy director Priti Patel said.

The judge said the women should have been allowed to make an informed decision and been given an opportunity to return to the hospital later to undergo sterilisation if they wanted.

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