- ‘Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases
- Vaccination gap a big concern
- Orange region passes 95% double vaxxed
- Rumbalara vaccine rollout boosted by van
- Requirements for a safe COVID opening up of the NT
- Concerns as COVID care transitions back to community
- National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update
- Seeking submissions on cannabis use or diabetes research
- New process for job advertising
‘Point-of-care’ testing for infectious diseases
Researchers, clinicians and community and government partners have been funded to develop a national framework to scale up point-of-care testing for infectious diseases in rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Announced on Sunday by the Minister for Health the Hon. Greg Hunt, the team, comprising over 20 organisations will receive $9,967,326 over six years from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).
“This significant grant from the federal government represents a paradigm shift for managing infectious diseases in remote communities, by bringing the power of diagnostic laboratories into a local community system,” says Prof. Guy, who is the Public Health Theme Director at the Kirby Institute.
“It will allow us to improve clinical practice by better targeting treatment, and thereby reduce the burden of infectious diseases and their complications for Aboriginal communities in rural and remote Australia.”
The research will be governed by an Indigenous advisory committee chaired by NACCHO Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey. The advisory committee will include members from across all states and territories and will ensure Indigenous ownership of the processes and outcomes of the research.
You can read the article in The National Tribune here.
Vaccination gap a big concern
Dr Jason Agostino, GP and epidemiologist with ANU, and Senior Medical Advisor at NACCHO spoke with with Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National Breakfast this morning about how the national double vaccination rate continues to climb, but the figures are much lower in Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander communities.
With the national double vaccination rate at close to 82% of people aged 16 and over, only 55% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr Agostino says the vaccination gap is of big concern as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being hit hard by Delta already.
“Over the last three months in NSW, Victoria and the ACT we have seen over 7,500 cases of infection, 750 hospitalisations, close to 90 people in the ICU and 15 deaths.”
“We are really concerned about what will happen when boarders open and more people are exposed,” said Dr Agostino.
In the interview he also talks about why the vaccination rates are so low, what is working to increase those rates and what the focus needs to be moving forward.
You can listen to the full interview on ABC RN Breakfast here.
Orange region passes 95% double vaxxed
The Orange region has surged past the 95 per cent double dose vaccination ceiling as the Central West continues to roll up its sleeve.
After facing the virus head-on throughout July and then again during a lengthy lockdown in August, September and October, the Local Government Areas of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne have rallied.
All three LGAs can boast a first dose of 95 per cent or greater, according to the Australian Government’s LGA vaccination roadmap data, while the double dose rates are equally impressive. Orange and Blayney have both passed the 95 per cent double jab mark too – with the combined 15 and over population of those areas around the 40,000 people mark.
You can read the article in the Central Western Daily here.
Rumbalara vaccine rollout boosted by van
A vaccine van has rolled into town to help increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among First Nations people in Shepparton.
“I think the van will be a great asset in that it will complement the hard work our team have been doing at Rumbalara,” said Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative chief executive Felicia Dean.
The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and Rumbalara jointly launched the dedicated Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) COVID-19 Vaccine Van in Shepparton on Tuesday. The van is staffed by health professionals from Rumbalara, Star Health and VACCHO.
“The van can go out to homes for those that are struggling and don’t have transport,” Ms Dean said.
The Rumbalara chief executive officer said home visits could be booked via Rumbalara Medical Service, which also offered walk-in vaccinations.
“All we can do is provide as many opportunities for people to come and get vaccinated as possible, be it in Mooroopna or Shepparton, or in the home,” she said.
You can read the article in the Shepparton News here.
Requirements for a safe COVID opening up of the NT
In a media release by the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT (AMSANT) they outlined key principles and actions required for a safe COVID opening up of the Northern Territory. These were agreed to following the release of the new Doherty modelling for the NT and following a meeting of AMSANT’s Board in Darwin on Tuesday.
“Critical to reopening is the need to achieve a safe threshold of high vaccination rates across NT communities as well as reliable data to tell us when we have reached these thresholds and can safely take the next steps,” AMSANT CEO, John Paterson said.
“Above all, our urgent priority is to accelerate the vaccination rollout across the NT and particularly in Aboriginal communities, as the best protection we can provide. But to do this we need a close partnership and collaboration between the NT Government and the ACCHSs sector, as well as the Land Councils and other key stakeholders”, Mr Paterson said.
“Finally, before we open up, we need to ensure we have enough staff to deal with COVID outbreaks across primary health care and the hospital sector, that we know will occur when we open up.”
You can view the media release by AMSANT here.
Concerns as COVID care transitions back to community
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt last Friday announced the next stage of care for COVID-19 patients in light of rising vaccination rates and the lower numbers of people expected to require hospitalisation.
“As we open up, we know that there will be more cases that will be treated at home because people will be fully vaccinated. They may not require hospitalisation, and so the balance will shift from hospitalisation to community care,” Hunt said at a press conference.
The move to devolve the care of COVID-19 patients from hospitals and specialised services to general practitioners has alarmed some patients and doctors concerned at the risk of infection in waiting rooms and an inadequate $25 “bonus” Medicare payment.
The Government’s $180 million funding package for primary care to support COVID-19 patients at home and in the community includes:
- A new, temporary MBS item for $25 for general practices to cover the extra cost of treating COVID-positive patients face-to-face, including infection control measures.
- GPs supervising COVID patients will receive pulse oximeters from the national medical stockpile to assist in remote monitoring of patients’ oxygen levels at home.
- The existing GP-led respiratory clinics will be continued until June 2022.
- Home visits for COVID patients by nurse practitioners and practice nurses organised by Primary Health Networks.
You can read the article in Croakey Health Media here.
National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap update
Cancer Australia has released the third Roadmap Construction Update on the development of the National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap.
The National Pancreatic Cancer Roadmap will identify key priority areas for action over the next five years to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer.
In focus for this update are the priority setting process, and the development of Roadmap resources.
You can visit and interact with the infographic here.
Seeking submissions on cannabis use or diabetes research
The 42-year-old HealthBulletin has been renamed to the ‘Journal of the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet’. The newly designed journal (with a new logo and website) will facilitate access to evidence-based research and other information to support those working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector and is becoming increasingly visible and accessible to researchers and other readers.
To celebrate the launch of the journal’s new name, the journal is encouraging submissions to accompany two Special Editions in 2022. Each year the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet commissions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health topic reviews which are subject to blind peer review and published as Special Editions in the journal. In 2022, the following reviews will be published:
- a Review of cannabis use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- a Review of diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Submissions may cover any evidence-based aspect of either cannabis use or diabetes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and can be full or brief research reports. All manuscripts will be subject to blind peer review.
The closing date for submission is Thursday 23 December 2021.
New process for job advertising
NACCHO have introduced a new system for the advertising of job adverts via the NACCHO website and you can find the sector job listings here.
Click here to go to the NACCHO website where you can complete a form with job vacancy details – it will then be approved for posting and go live on the NACCHO website.