The Health News – 6 Nov 2014

Overview

  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed the Australian Government will help staff an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone. Mr Abbott said the Government was committing up to $20 million to the 100-bed treatment centre, which was being built by the United Kingdom.
  • The head of the Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT) Department at Adelaide’s Modbury Hospital says some children in the northern suburbs are waiting up to four years for procedures.
  • The health impacts of Victoria’s Hazelwood mine fire will be examined in a 20-year study after residents in the town of Morwell were exposed to thick, acrid smoke.



Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 6th November 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-05/australia-to-staff-ebola-treatment-centre-in-sierra-leone/5868334

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed the Australian Government will help staff an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone.

Mr Abbott said the Government was committing up to $20 million to the 100-bed treatment centre, which was being built by the United Kingdom.

He said the Government would not deploy health workers but would contract private Australian company Aspen to staff the centre.

Mr Abbott said the UK had agreed to treat any Australian working in the region.

Mr Abbott said most of the staff at the centre would be locally engaged.

“There will be some international staff and some of those are likely to include Australian-paid volunteers,” he said.

He said he expected Aspen would have staff on the ground in Sierra Leone within days.

“My hope is that this treatment centre will be operational by the end of the month,” he said.

Mr Abbott said the Government was also ramping up efforts to prevent a domestic outbreak of Ebola.

There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Australia, however a number of people have been tested after returning from West Africa.

Four people have been tested for Ebola in Western Australia, a parliamentary committee hearing has heard.

They all tested negative.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-05/children-wating-up-to-four-years-for-ears-nose-and-throat-surge/5867986

The head of the Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT) Department at Adelaide’s Modbury Hospital says some children in the northern suburbs are waiting up to four years for procedures.

Dr Dean Southwood has told 891 ABC Adelaide that after the paediatric ward was closed at Modbury Hospital in December last year, patients were transferred to the waiting list at Lyell McEwin despite the hospital not having an ENT department.

“That’s how ludicrous it is,” Dr Southwood said.

“It’s not an accredited hospital … it’s considered unsafe to operate on little kids up there.”

Dr Sonya Latzel from the Royal College of Surgeons said the Government closed the paediatric ward at Modbury before it had set up a replacement service.

However, Health Minister Jack Snelling laid the blame for a lack of ENT services at the Lyell McEwin Hospital with the doctors themselves.

Mr Snelling said he wanted doctors to travel to Elizabeth to provide services at its expanded Lyell McEwin paediatric ward but they would not make the move.

Dr Southwood maintained that it made sense for children to be seen at Modbury.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-05/monash-uni-to-lead-20-year-study-into-hazelwood-mine-fire-impact/5866204

The health impacts of Victoria’s Hazelwood mine fire will be examined in a 20-year study after residents in the town of Morwell were exposed to thick, acrid smoke.

The fire in the open cut coal mine burned for 45 days in February and March, sparking major health concerns.

The Victorian Government announced the long-term study and appointed Monash University to lead it.

Lead researcher Professor Michael Abramson said Morwell residents were exposed to quite high levels of air pollution during the fire.

“What we’re trying to determine with this study is whether that exposure has had any long-term health effects,” he said.

“We’re interested in whether the exposure to smoke has had an effect on people’s hearts and circulation, whether it’s had an effect on their lungs.

“We suspect from what we’ve already heard that there are some psychological impacts of being involved in a natural disaster like the fire, so we’ll certainly be investigating that in greater detail.”

During the fire, many residents raised concerns exposure to the smoke could cause cancer.

Professor Abramson said it could take several years to determine if that is the case.

He said researchers will begin by establishing baseline testing to look at the overall health of Morwell residents.

He said researchers also plan to select people to participate in a cardiac study, a respiratory study and a psychological study.

Victoria’s Health Minister David Davis said the Government acted on the recommendations of an independent inquiry into the fire.

He said the study would take at least 20 years, but could be extended if necessary.

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