An inquiry into dental services in Australia, some positive public health news from Brazil, and so many lessons to learn from COVID – these are a few of the issues covered in the column this week. Scroll down to check out all the conferences and events coming up.
It shouldn’t be easier to buy your fifth property than your first home.”
Community members have been urged to share with a Senate inquiry their experiences of accessing dental services in Australia.
Submissions are due by 4 June; the inquiry is due to present an interim report by 20 June and a final report by 28 November, 2023.
The terms of reference for the Select Committee into the Provision and Access of Dental Services in Australia are:
- the experience of children and adults in accessing and affording dental and related services
- the adequacy and availability of public dental services in Australia, including in outer-metropolitan, rural, regional and remote areas
- the interaction between Commonwealth, state and territory government legislation, strategies and programs in meeting community need for dental services
- the provision of dental services under Medicare, including the Child Dental Benefits Schedule;
- the social and economic impact of improved dental healthcare
- the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and cost-of-living crisis on access to dental and related services
- pathways to improve oral health outcomes in Australia, including a path to universal access to dental services
- the adequacy of data collection, including access to dental care and oral health outcomes
- workforce and training matters relevant to the provision of dental services
- international best practice for, and consideration of the economic benefit of, access to dental services
- any related matters.
Read about a law passed by a municipality in Brazil that prohibits the sale, marketing, and distribution of products that contribute to childhood obesity in schools, including all ultra-processed products.
Bleak COVID assessments
This article in Nature Medicine says the COVID-19 pandemic has led to depleted and weakened health systems. An estimated 180,000 healthcare workers lost their lives during the pandemic, and some estimates show that at least one in five have left the field and more plan to leave the health workforce. Meanwhile, public health has seen an unprecedented attrition of national, state and local public health officers and epidemiologists. In addition, century-long legal precedents and once-well-established powers that enable leaders and agencies to implement control measures have been rolled back by legislators or limited by courts.
The authors conclude: “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has paradoxically left the world probably even less prepared for stopping the next outbreak from becoming a pandemic. The world is in a precarious public health position that warrants weighing potential pandemic risks more seriously.”Read The New York Times article. A new book, ‘Lessons From the Covid War: An Investigative Report’, written by a consortium of scientific and public health experts in the United States, reportedly “paints a picture of a country ill-prepared to cope with a dangerous biological foe, riven by partisan politics, and led by people who saw little political gain in taking ownership of managing the crisis.”
This PBS NewsHour report has more details, referring to the memorable description of former President Donald Trump as a ‘comorbidity’, ie a condition that increases the risk of death or illness.
At least six million Australians will halve their medicine costs and need fewer visits to the GP and pharmacist to get the medicine they use the most, saving patients more than $1.6 billion over the next four years, under reforms announced by Health Minister Mark Butler this week.
Once fully implemented, the 60-day prescribing policy will provide doctors with the option to prescribe a two-month supply of more than 320 medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to Australians with stable, ongoing conditions. The current dispensing limit is for a one-month supply only.