The Health News – 24 March 2014

Overview

  • Disability lobbyists have condemned suggestions the government should delay the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
  • 59 people in Guinea, West Africa have died in an outbreak of the Ebola virus. Scientists studying samples in the French city of Lyon confirmed it was Ebola, the Guinean health ministry said.
  • In VIC, rights advocates are appealing to the state government to reject a proposal to legalise electroconvulsive therapy for children.

Health News on HPR.

Disability advocates urge Government not to delay NDIS – by Mark Colvin
Disability lobbyists have condemned suggestions the government should delay the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The federal government has said that they ‘remain committed to delivering a “sustainable” disability insurance scheme’ but have made no guarantees about meeting the former Labor government’s roll-out deadline. The former government had said the tiered implementation of the scheme would see most eligible people receiving coverage by 2017, but there are doubts this will occur. Acting CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations said “ You’ve got no idea how the rollercoaster ride that people with disabilities in Australia have been put through around this scheme. We’ve been told that it’s coming, we’ve been told that it’s here, people are playing politics. It needs to be delivered.” A recent review of planning for the scheme found that many required resources such as IT assets and management staff are inadequate or not yet existent. Disability services minister Mitch Fifield last week likened the scheme to “an aeroplane that has taken off before it’s finished being built.” Chairman of the National Disability Insurance Agency Bruce Bonyhady said of the roll-out, “The Minister is committed to delivering the scheme sustainably. All governments are committed to delivering this scheme sustainably. The board is committed to that and that’s exactly what we’re focussed on.”

Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea kills at least 59 people – no author listed
59 people in Guinea, West Africa have died in an outbreak of the Ebola virus. Dr Sakoba Keita of the Guinea health ministry’s epidemics prevention unit said “The Ebola fever epidemic raging in southern Guinea since February 9 has left at least 59 dead out of 80 cases identified by our services on the ground. We are overwhelmed in the field, we are fighting against this epidemic with all the means we have at our disposal with the help of our partners but it is difficult. But we will get there.”
No ebola cases had ever been recorded in Guinea prior to this year. Experts from the World Health Organisation have said that recent cases in Sierra Leone have shown similar symptoms and believe the outbreaks are probably related. Sierra Leone’s  Chief medical officer Dr Brima Kargbo has said health experts are reviewing the case of a 14 year old boy who died in the region after attending the funeral of a previous victim of the outbreak. Dr Esther Sterk from charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said the group will set up isolation units in Guinea’s affected areas and ship in tonnes of medicines and other treatment equipment, and said “These structures are essential to prevent the spread of the disease, which is highly contagious.”

Victoria urged to ditch change to mental health law that allows electric shock therapy on children – no author listed
In VIC, rights advocates are appealing to the state government to reject a proposal to legalise electro convulsive therapy for children. The law is one of many proposed changes to the mental health bill which the Victorian government says will significantly improve patient welfare and give them more autonomy over their treatment. But senior policy adviser for the federation Dr Chris Atmore says the changes will lessen patients’ rights, and said “We’re concerned about the possible impact on children’s developing brains. This is really a once-in-a-generational time to get things right in terms of acknowledging and supporting the human rights of people who either have mental illness or are labelled as being mentally ill.”

Victorian Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge says the decision to allow ECT on children was not taken lightly, and that “[We have been] taking advice from psychiatrists who say that in a very small number of cases it may be the best treatment and they didn’t want that capacity to provide ECT removed. They want to be able to make clinical judgements about what is the best treatment for any individual and not be limited by exclusions or bans. This bill is about providing care to people with significant mental illness when they can’t make a decision for themselves. There are always human rights decisions and limitations when you remove someone’s right to make a choice about their treatment, but the bill itself significantly enhances their right to have a say about the treatment they receive.”

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