Australian Medical News Brief April 2018

Australian Medical News Brief Apr 2018   Welcome to Medshop Australia’s monthly series, News Brief, where we talk about what you may have missed. These are mostly articles we’ve posted on our social media news feeds. We consider them the most newsworthy events in Australian health and medicine from the last month. You will find links to the original articles. Let’s look back and review the top stories from April.

 

‘It’s a game-changer’: Flu vaccine to protect Aussies for up to 10 years

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As reported by Startsat, The annual flu shot might become a thing of the past as a new universal flu vaccine that can protect people for up to 10 years has been developed.

Dr Antony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease explained that he is confident that a universal flu vaccine with a higher efficacy rate will soon be available in Australia.

He has stated, “Influenza can be prevented to a certain extent by vaccines, it isn’t a perfect vaccine – at best it’s 60 percent effective... But if we get an 80 to 90 percent effective influenza vaccine, that’s a game-changer.”

Dr Fauci told Startsat that the new universal vaccine is expected to protect against illness for up to 10 years.

“What we’re trying to do with the universal flu vaccine is to get away from the necessity of changing it each year... If we can get to the point where we get one that is very broad in its protection that would be a very good goal to achieve.”

 

Mysterious flesh-eating Buruli ulcer spreading rapidly in Australia

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As reported by SBS, a flesh-eating bacteria which causes a disease called Buruli ulcer is spreading at unprecedented levels in Victoria.

Researchers are appealing for an increase in government funding so they can figure out how to contain the bacteria, at present experts do not know how to stop it.

The bacteria is most commonly found in tropical Africa and associated with stagnant water but has been affecting Victorians for the last few years and is becoming more prevalent.

It is most common in the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas, however, a few cases have also been reported in Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory. Dr Daniel O'Brien of Barwon Health specialises in the research and treatment of the condition.

"It's a flesh-eating infection and it starts to eat away at the skin and the tissue underneath ... In some circumstances where it's very aggressive, it can very rapidly take over a whole arm or a part of a leg... This is a rapidly worsening epidemic ... We have critical information that we don't know and the funding is urgent."

Dr Daniel O'Brien of Barwon Health specialises in the research and treatment of the condition.

"It's a flesh-eating infection and it starts to eat away at the skin and the tissue underneath ... In some circumstances where it's very aggressive, it can very rapidly take over a whole arm or a part of a leg. This is a rapidly worsening epidemic ... We have critical information that we don't know and the funding is urgent."

People who are experiencing any symptoms including cuts and wounds that begin to ulcerate are urged to seek urgent medical care.

 

Australia to join global health and climate change initiative

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As reported by the Eureka Alert, Australia is joining a global health and climate change initiative by taking place in the Lancet Countdown project and report on health and climate change.

The project recognises the importance of the climate change challenge in Australia, including its relevance to human health, and the unique breadth and depth of the Australian expertise in climate change and human health.

Dr Ying Zhang, a senior lecturer in the University of Sydney's School of Public Health, and Associate Professor Paul Beggs, from Macquarie University, wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia that, from an Australian perspective:

"With our high level of carbon emissions per capita, it will be important to reflect on our progress and how it compares with that of other countries, especially high-income countries. The Australian countdown is also envisioned as a timely endeavour that will accelerate the Australian government response to climate change and its recognition of the health benefits of urgent climate action."

 

University of Sydney opens next-generation medical imaging facility to advance future of healthcare

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As reported by Open Gov Asia, The University of Sydney announced the launch of Sydney Imaging - a next-generation core research facility that is dedicated to research and training in the field of medical imagery.

Sydney Imaging will enable researchers to further engage with the frontier questions in medical imagery and it's relationship to healthcare and medical research, with cutting-edge pre-clinical and clinical imaging technologies.

"Imaging technology allows researchers to study complex biological systems and disease processes non-invasively, and gain insights into scientific and medical problems not available by other means. The latest medical imaging technology in Sydney Imaging is available to students, researchers and collaborators and is designed to lead discoveries and education in patient diagnosis and treatment."

 

The 11 medicines that are cheaper from April 1

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As reported by 9 News, from the 1st of April 11 new medicines will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. On the flipside, health insurance premiums will also rise on the first of April and unfortunately, this is not an April fools joke.

Health minister Greg Hunt has stated, "Australians with conditions including high blood pressure, depression, digestive disorders and certain types of cancer will now pay less for their medicines, every time they visit the pharmacy."

With regards to certain cancer drugs, used to treat lymphoma, lung cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer the prices will drop in cost from over $60,000 to $6.40 for concession card holders and $39.50 for others.

Meanwhile, the Federal Labor party has contested the increase in health insurance premiums and wants to cap the increase at 2% for the next 2 years, as consumers are now being faced with another $200 increase to premiums this year.

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