The Health News – 18 March 2016

Overview:
• At a Close the Gap event in Sydney on Thursday, Aboriginal Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said it was important to remember that the healthcare system and service providers have a ‘duty to deliver care’ that produces the same positive outcomes for all Australians. 

• Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) chief executive Jane Martin said consumption in Australia was now high enough that a sugar tax similar to the one announced in the UK would be in line with global health recommendations.The group has campaigned for a sugar tax in the past and says there is now both public and political interest in it.

• Several National Partnership Agreements will conclude at the end of June, including one that funds the SA Health rheumatic heart disease control program. South Australian Health Minister Jack Snelling wrote to federal counterpart Sussan Ley recently to seek continued funding.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 18th of March 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-17/renewed-calls-more-aboriginal-workers-in-cancer-care/7255602

As part of the 10-year anniversary of the Close the Gap campaign, Cancer Council NSW has renewed its call for more Aboriginal workers in cancer services to lower the Indigenous mortality rate.

The campaign was launched to tackle poor health outcomes across the Indigenous population.

At a Close the Gap event in Sydney on Thursday, Aboriginal Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said it was important to remember that the healthcare system and service providers have a “duty to deliver care” that produces the same positive outcomes for all Australians.

He said the onus on driving down high mortality rates within the Aboriginal community rested with governments at all levels, as well as the healthcare system.

Cancer Council NSW released research on Thursday showing a significant gap in bowel cancer survival outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

The research, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, analysed data from the NSW Cancer Registry over six years and identified about 30,000 cases of bowel cancer, including 278 diagnoses of Aboriginal people.

Researchers found that while survival rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people were similar 18 months after surgery, five years on from their diagnoses, the Indigenous patients were 68 per cent more likely to die.

The research showed that among patients diagnosed with bowel cancer Aboriginal people had 30 per cent higher mortality rates than non-Aboriginal people.

Cancer Council NSW senior Professor Dianne O’Connell said the figures may be explained by a lack of follow-up testing by the patient, reduced access to healthcare services and cultural barriers to seeking diagnoses or treatment.

Professor O’Connell said these rates prompted Cancer Council NSW to advocate for more Aboriginal people working in cancer services.

She said the research demonstrated the need for culturally-specific information, treatment and follow-up care.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-17/uk-sugar-tax-australia-is-sweet-enough-to-pay-too/7255050

Australia should implement a tax on sugary drinks because “if price goes up, people drink less”, a health body chief has said.

Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) chief executive Jane Martin said consumption in Australia was now high enough that a sugar tax similar to the one announced in the UK would be in line with global health recommendations.

“Yes. We have high consumption, we have a problem with obesity and a tax on sugary drinks is something that should be implemented,” she said.

The OPC was established by the Cancer Council and Diabetes Australia in Victoria as well as VicHealth and a World Health Organisation centre at Deakin University.

The group has campaigned for a sugar tax in the past and says there is now both public and political interest in it.

“People are concerned about sugar. Eighty-five per cent of people surveyed support a tax on sugary drinks if the money is used to support programs for childhood obesity,” Ms Martin said.

Jamie Oliver called on Australia to pull its “finger out” and follow the UK in establishing a sugar tax in its fights against obesity

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-17/rheumatic-heart-disease-program-funding-cut/7255216

Lives could be lost after a heart disease prevention program ends in the middle of the year, a health executive has warned.

SA Health’s communicable disease control branch director Ann Koehler said rheumatic heart disease, which is now seen almost exclusively in Indigenous people, was preventable.

“It’s really a Third-World disease, [because] we shouldn’t see it at all here but unfortunately we do see cases still in our Aboriginal population, particularly in remote communities,” she said.

Several National Partnership Agreements will conclude at the end of June, including one that funds the SA Health rheumatic heart disease control program.

The Federal Government has contributed about $1.2 million over three years.

South Australian Health Minister Jack Snelling wrote to federal counterpart Sussan Ley recently to seek continued funding, but said she had not responded.