The Health News – 10 September 2015


Overview:

• Australia’s first autism biobank has been established to help researchers develop an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of autism. The chairwoman of the Cooperative Centre for Living with Autism, Judy Brewer, said they hoped to change that with the biobank.

• WA Health Minister Kim Hames has distanced himself from comments by the Premier on a report, which was critical of adult cancer services in the state, after Colin Barnett attacked the findings as “exaggerated”.

• Every year, about 2,500 Australians take their own lives. Many of the tens of thousands of people affected by loss will come together to take part in World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK Day, to help stem the tide. Martina McGrath will be one of them and she will be speaking about her work with Griffith University Australian Institute for Suicide Prevention and Research.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 10th September 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-09/australia-establishes-first-autism-biobank-to-develop-earlier2/6762158

Australia’s first autism biobank has been established to help researchers develop an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of autism.

Despite increasing awareness of autism, diagnosis is still problematic.

Currently in Australia, diagnosis of autism is largely based on behavioural profiling of the child, teenager or adult in an expensive process that can take many months.

The chairwoman of the Cooperative Centre for Living with Autism, Judy Brewer, said they hoped to change that with the biobank.

“The exciting thing about the biobank is that we actually don’t know where it will lead to,” Ms Brewer said.

The biobank will contain detailed biological and behavioural information collected from families of people with autism.

Ms Brewer said it was hoped the data would help develop a national accurate diagnostic protocol and an invaluable resource for autism research as it grows over time.

“It’s a very large national asset that we are developing to increase understanding of autism,” she says.

“It’s the first Australian large scale Biobank – there have been smaller biobanks – but not to have public access or access to the research community to use in Australia and internationally.

“So we’re currently collecting blood samples, saliva, we’re extracting DNA to use the data from those samples.”

Ms Brewer said they hope the Biobank will help researchers understand autism spectrum disorder better.

“If we can break down that spectrum into understanding where on the spectrum some people sit … [and] what’s the best way they can learn [and how] they can achieve their full potential, that will mean we can target treatments a lot better,” she said.


Cooperative Centre for Living with Autism CEO Andrew Davis said there was a renewed focus on creating better outcomes for adults with autism, when traditionally the emphasis had been on early intervention.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-09/wa-health-minister-at-odds-with-premier-over-cancer-report/6762934

WA Health Minister Kim Hames has distanced himself from comments by the Premier on a report, which was critical of adult cancer services in the state, after Colin Barnett attacked the findings as “exaggerated”.

Dr Hames stayed away from criticising the conclusions reached by a team of medical experts in the same way Mr Barnett did, instead describing it as a “good report”.

The report, which was leaked to the State Opposition and released … [on Tuesday], warned that a string of serious problems was compromising patient safety and treatment outcomes.

That drew a strong rebuke from Mr Barnett, who said the draft report overstated the problems while urging those attacking the state’s health system to stop.

“I think there has been exaggeration, yes. There are issues around cancer treatment and that is being dealt with,” the Premier said.

Dr Hames said while he disagreed on some issues in the report, the professionals involved did a good job overall.

The Minister did reject assertions that budget savings measures were causing serious problems, insisting staffing levels were being handled appropriately.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-09/r-u-ok-world-suicide-prevention-days-aim-help-stem-tide/6762298

Every year, about 2,500 Australians take their own lives.

[Today]…, many of the tens of thousands of people affected by loss will come together to take part in World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK Day, to help stem the tide.

Martina McGrath will be one of them.

Two years ago, burdened by financial stress and feeling alone, she set herself on fire and suffered burns to 70 per cent of her body.

“It’s not always just a mental health issue, there are often a number of social triggers and factors that come into play that lead a person to get to that point,” she said.

“I felt that I had no love and hope, and with the absence of love and hope I felt my world fell apart.”

… [Today] she will be speaking at a World Suicide Prevention Day forum in Brisbane, about her work with Griffith University’s Australian Institute for Suicide Prevention and Research to establish the country’s first support group for suicide attempt survivors.

“There’s research showing it works, there’ll be no stigma in the room, it’ll be okay to talk about how you’re feeling,” she said.

The theme for the 2015 World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Suicide Prevention: Reach Out and Save a Life’ and a key message from the mental health experts is that if you are worried about someone, talk to them — the earlier the better.

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