The Health News – 9 December 2015

Overview:
• The Capital Health Network will share in $241.5 million in Federal Government funding to help plan and commission treatment services for ice users. The taskforce aims to help shift focus from policing of the drug to prevention.

• An inquest into a child’s death at Brewarrina in north western New South Wales has heard it is an example of intergenerational health and social problems plaguing some disadvantaged communities and families.

• Legislation to allow medicinal cannabis to be grown and manufactured in Victoria will be introduced into State Parliament, and children with epilepsy are expected to be given first access. Health Minister Jill Hennessy said access to the drug would be rolled out gradually and eventually be made available to palliative care and those with HIV.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 9th December 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-08/canberra-health-network-to-share-in-ice-taskforce-funding/7009250

A Canberra primary health network will have a key role in finding new ways to fight the spread of the drug ice.

The Capital Health Network will share in $241.5 million in Federal Government funding to help plan and commission treatment services for ice users.

The funding is part of the Government’s National Ice Taskforce announced by Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull on Sunday.

The taskforce aims to help shift focus from policing of the drug to prevention.

Despite an exact amount of funding yet to be announced for the ACT, the network’s chief Gaylene Coulton said the aim was to provide a holistic approach to the problem.

“It is a wonderful investment for the community,” she said.

“What it means is that we will incorporate the issues around ice, around drugs … into our needs assessment and planning processes.

“We will be able to work with service providers and the community to identify gaps in what services are currently being provided … and then again funding those gaps through the money we receive.”

Ms Coulton said the funding would also go towards the integration of new treatment services for ice users in the ACT.

“Usage in the ACT is a real problem and higher per capita than other places in Australia so we do have a big issue,” she said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-08/coroner-hands-down-findings-into-brewarrina-child27s-death/7008886

An inquest into a child’s death at Brewarrina in north western New South Wales has heard it is an example of intergenerational health and social problems plaguing some disadvantaged communities and families.

Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon has found four-year-old Kia Shillingsworth died of acute rheumatic carditis at Brewarrina Hospital in October 2012.

He has told the inquest that like too many others in remote Aboriginal communities, the child died of a disease of poverty at an early age.

The inquest heard that while Family and Community Services had received reports about the girl, it is difficult to draw any conclusions about the potential benefit if FACs had been more involved.

A mobile team of caseworkers based in Dubbo now helps service the Brewarrina district.

The coroner has recommended the state’s Minister for Family and Community Services makes it a permanent feature if it proves to be successful.

He has also suggested the local health service expands an orientation kit to specifically refer to the Neonatal Paediatric Emergency Transport Service.

A two-way video consultation system that connects isolated communities in Western Australia and Perth has also been recommended to be considered for New South Wales.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-08/medicinal-marijuana-legislation-introduced-into-parliament/7008548

Legislation to allow medicinal cannabis to be grown and manufactured in Victoria will be introduced into State Parliament today, and children with epilepsy are expected to be given first access.

The Andrews Government said during the 2014 election campaign that it wanted make cannabis legal and available to those with ill health in exceptional circumstances.

A report by the Victorian Law Reform Commission handed down in October advised the Government on how to prescribe and regulate the drug.

The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015 … will “provide a legal framework to enable the cultivation and manufacture of safe and high-quality medicinal cannabis products,” the Government said.

Children with severe epilepsy would be given first access to the drug in 2017, it said.

The Queensland Government announced earlier this year that a trial to treat children with epilepsy with medicinal cannabis would take place in that state in 2016.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said access to the drug would be rolled out gradually and eventually be made available to palliative care and those with HIV.

“I know patients are knocking down our door asking when they’ll be able to access medicinal cannabis, we’ve got two important steps to take,” she said.

“The first is we’ve got to get a safe product produced and manufactured here in the state.

“The second is we’ve got to have the right clinical oversight in terms of which patients get access and how we prescribe it.

“We can only produce a product at a small scale to begin with and then scale up, that’s why we’re starting with the kids with epilepsy.”

Ms Hennessy said she hoped the legislation would be passed by February next year.

Medicinal cannabis is legal in 23 states in the United States, and also Spain and Israel, Ms Hennessy said, but legislation changes at the federal level were needed to import the drug.

“We’ve got to do it safely, we need to get the right processes in place but we’re very conscious that for patients it can’t come soon enough,” Ms Hennessy said.

“We’re being cautious, but very focused.

“This bill is setting up the infrastructure we need in order to progress this change and get patients access.”

The Government said the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources would oversee cultivation trials and receive new regulatory powers to license growers.

It would also establish the Office of Medicinal Cannabis to oversee the manufacturing and dispensing of the drug, while an independent medical advisory committee on medicinal cannabis would also be created.