Welcome to the latest edition of the NSW Health e-bulletin, Health in Focus. This quarterly update features the latest news from the largest public health system in Australia.
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Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced the Towards Zero Suicides Premier’s Priority to reduce the rate of suicide deaths in NSW by 20 per cent by 2023. This commitment to suicide prevention will support communities around NSW to start the journey towards zero suicides.
The Premier’s Priority further supports the NSW Government’s investment of $87 million over the next three years in the Towards Zero Suicides initiatives.
These eight new or expanded suicide prevention initiatives that address priorities under the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018-23 will deliver innovative suicide prevention programs, while building on what is already in place.
NSW Health has launched a Q fever awareness campaign warning people working in animal-related occupations to be aware of Q fever and to take steps to prevent infection.
The campaign targets people in direct contact with farm animals, some domestic pets and wildlife. This particularly includes livestock and dairy farmers, farm workers, shearers, stockyard workers and veterinary staff.
Family members of workers may also be at risk as the bacteria can be carried on farm tools or work clothes and brought into the family home.
NSW is struggling through one of the worst droughts on record. Drought and high winds may increase the risk of the disease spreading. Therefore NSW Health is also working with many regional community and industry organisations to spread the message that a Q fever vaccine is available and is the best way to prevent infection.
The NSW Government launched a Primary School Mobile Dental Program in July 2019.
Children attending participating primary schools in NSW now have access to free dental care delivered by experienced NSW Health staff using a combination of fully equipped dental vans and portable dental equipment set up on school grounds.
For the first year of the program, schools have been prioritised based on the level of oral health risk among their students. Primary school children in Western Sydney, the Mid North Coast and the Central Coast will be among the first to benefit.
The 35 mobile dental clinics will provide checks and basic dental care to up to 136,000 primary school children, made possible by an investment of $70 million over four years.
Australia’s number one killer, heart disease, is being challenged by researchers under the NSW Government’s $150 million investment in cardiovascular research.
Research grants amounting to almost $15 million have been awarded to 10 senior scientists and 10 clinician scientists, to drive scientific discoveries and develop innovative therapies for cardiovascular disease.
Recipients include Professor Richard Harvey from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, whose research project aims to understand the cellular, molecular and genetic causes of hypoplastic left heart, a condition where babies are born with a small cardiac left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart.
In August 2019, the Bureau of Health information released its latest independent report Healthcare in Focus: People’s use and experiences of mental health care in NSW.
The report shows most people receiving mental health services in the community and hospitals are young people, with emergency department presentations and admitted episodes for 15-24 year olds up 23 per cent over four years.
These numbers show efforts to reduce stigma are making a difference, with increasing numbers of people willing to seek treatment.
NSW has around 700 mental health facilities, including more than 50 hospitals with mental health units and more than 500 community mental health teams.
The Pathways to Community Living Initiative (PCLI) is a coordinated statewide approach to supporting people with severe and persistent mental illness, who have had a long stay in hospital for more than 12 months, to re-establish their lives in the community.
One person who has benefited from this initiative is Dougie. He has lived an itinerate lifestyle with long periods of homelessness and frequent extensive mental health hospital admissions.
As a result of the PCLI and the improved partnerships with aged care facilities, Dougie was offered a placement at Annie Green Court in Redfern.
He has now been living in the community at Annie Green for two years with no hospital readmissions and continues to enjoy the freedom and safety his new home provides him.
Recipients of the 2019 Medical Devices Fund, which invests in the development and commercialisation of medical devices and related technologies, were announced at an event at Parliament House on Wednesday 21 August.
A non-evasive device to monitor pregnancy and labour progression and a respirator for healthcare workers at risk of airborne viruses such as influenza and measles, as well as emerging pathogens such as Ebola, were some of the successful recipients together awarded $6.85 million by the NSW Government.
2019 Medical Devices Fund recipients receiving their awards at Parliament House
Now in its seventh round, more than $55 million in grants has been awarded to 35 technologies since the Fund began in 2013.
Photographers of all abilities are encouraged to enter the Your Health Link National Photographic Competition, which opened on 19 August and runs until midnight (Eastern Standard Time) 13 October 2019.
The prestigious competition is run by the Mid North Coast Local Health District, as part of the Your Health Link initiative, a strategy aimed at enhancing community understanding of health and health care information, and how people can apply that information to their lives.
The competition offers a host of prizes in the categories of Mobile Photography, Open, Primary and High School and includes prizes to support healthy school canteen programs.