CANBERRA — In March 2017, 4.1 million Australians were reported to have no vaccinations against diseases. This increases Australians’ risk of illness, death and transmitted infections across the country’s communities. However, there are proposed reforms in medical practices to treat common diseases in Australia.
Q fever, a disease transmitted from Australia’s livestock, causes a prolonged and debilitating illness in humans. University of Queensland researchers are investigating the role that farms and airborne dispersion play in spreading the infection. The researchers will use geographical systems to track the disease’s transmission and find the bacterium responsible for Q fever.
With the number of Q fever cases increasing in South Australia, nonprofit Livestock SA is reminding residents why vaccination is important. The organization is also urging Australia’s government to support a national program that would subsidize vaccination costs. The program would make vaccinations more affordable for residents over 15 years old who live in rural areas.
Skin cancer accounts for 80 percent of Australian cancer cases each year. Firstcheck, a New Zealand app used to detect skin cancer, was recently launched in Australia. Users submit photos of moles to the app, allowing a skin specialist to review the picture and determine if skin cancer has been spotted. Hayden Laird, the app’s cofounder, says that finding skin cancer early means a better chance of curing it.
TROG Cancer Research, a clinical trial group, found that surgery combined with radiotherapy is more effective than traditional chemotherapy for skin cancer treatment. TROG also found that chemotherapy does not improve cure rates. This information could help residents avoid the side effects of skin cancer chemotherapy. Similar medical findings could help decrease the rate of common diseases in Australia.
Trachoma, a disease that causes blindness from swelling eyes, has infected nearly five percent of the country’s children. The rate is presently much smaller compared to 20 percent of residents who were infected in 2009. Trachoma was originally eliminated from mainstream Australia for 100 years. With the disease’s return, the World Health Organization intends to eliminate Trachoma by 2020.
The Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Trust (QEJT), a charitable foundation, created the Safe Eyes program. The program helps Australia’s Aboriginal communities, those most impacted by trachoma, develop strategies to reduce prevalence in remote areas. QEJT plans for these strategies to spread beyond the Aboriginal communities and reach all Australians.
Meningococcal disease, an acute bacterial infection, causes an Australian to die within hours if left untreated. Australian doctors now have vaccinations available for the five main strains of the disease. Bexsero, the vaccine for strain B, was unavailable after high demands in 2016. It is expected to return to Australia’s market this year.
In January 2017, Australia’s federal government promised a national level response to Meningococcal disease. The country’s chief medical officer organized a focus group to study the epidemiology of the disease’s M strain and intends to consider risk factors. Options for addressing the disease in existing processes will also be considered.
Australia’s government and other parties are working hard to control and prevent these diseases. Vaccinations will continue to be recommended for all Australians. With these efforts in place, the rate of common diseases in Australia could significantly decrease.
– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar