This week, we link you into the latest news on global tobacco control and other global health matters, as well as tweets from the Screening Symposium on addressing inequities, and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons inaugural Indigenous Hui.
We also report on calls for Infection Prevention and Control committees to do more to protect patients from hospital-acquired COVID-19.
Scroll to the end for news of upcoming events, awards, appointments, jobs and other opportunities.
Most Aboriginal kids forced through the NT criminal legal system at a young age are living with unmet health, disability and trauma needs.
The vast majority are kids also in the child protection system as victims/survivors of harm. These kids need culturally responsive services and support in their communities that can help them heal, recover and meet their full potential.
Changes to laws to raise the age must be complimented by a service response led by Aboriginal people and organisations.”
Global progress in tobacco control is outlined in the ninth World Health Organization Report on the global tobacco epidemic, which was launched this week.
It says 44 countries remain unprotected by any of the ‘MPOWER’ measures recommended under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (outlined in more detail below), and 53 countries still do not have complete smoking bans in healthcare facilities.
Meanwhile, only about half of countries have smoke-free private workplaces and restaurants.
An editorial jointly published by more than 100 medical journals has called for health professionals to engage with calls to address a growing nuclear danger.
“In January 2023, the science and security board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the doomsday clock forward to 90 seconds before midnight, reflecting the growing risk of nuclear war. In August 2022, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned that the world is now in “a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War.
“The danger has been underlined by growing tensions between many nuclear armed states. As editors of health and medical journals worldwide, we call on health professionals to alert the public and our leaders to this major danger to public health and the essential life support systems of the planet – and urge action to prevent it.”
The editorial urges health professional associations to inform their members worldwide about the threat to human survival and to support efforts to reduce the near term risks of nuclear war. Read more.
In a statement on 1 August, OzSAGE called on Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) committees around Australia to protect patients from hospital-acquired COVID-19.
The statement said: “The core role of IPAC is to prevent hospital acquired infections, and they must step up in this crisis. We call on IPAC to lead the collection of data and establish systems for transparent monitoring and reporting on hospital-acquired COVID-19.
“This should include comparison of infection and death rates with other hospital acquired infections which are key performance targets for IPACs such as surgical site infections and spread of antimicrobial resistant organisms. We call on State, Territory and Federal governments to add hospital-acquired COVID to other preventable infections which are measured and reported as performance targets for hospitals.
We call for all health care settings to provide clean air to a clinical standard. We can do better than settling for unacceptably high levels of ongoing transmission and the significant burden of disease, including long COVID, associated with SARS-CoV-2. Protecting our health systems and our healthcare workers by ensuring safe air, supporting the use of high-quality masks and respirators and providing quality oversight, including that of occupational physicians and occupational hygiene experts is of vital concern for the health and wellbeing of Australians.”
Read The Atlantic articleRead the MJA article, Australian National Clinical Evidence Taskforce COVID‐19 drug treatment guidelines: challenges of producing a living guideline Read the RACS publication on long COVID and surgery. Read The Lancet Infectious Diseases article
Research to note
Read the editorial: Reaching across the political divide to address health inequalities Read: Strengthening local government policies to address health inequities: perspectives from Australian local government stakeholders Read: Culturally Informed Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Evaluations: A Scoping Review Read the article: Women and the commercial determinants of health.
The authors conclude: “As part of action to expose and counter the CDoH, the public health and health promotion communities should continue to cast a spotlight on the powerful commercial structures and systems that create and exacerbate inequity for women and girls.”
Read the article: Mental health impact of cuts to local government spending on cultural, environmental and planning services in England: a longitudinal ecological studyRead the article (paywall), Artificial Intelligence in U.S. Health Care Delivery.
Read more about the Indigenous Hui, organised by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and funded by the Foundation for Surgery, held at a marae (gathering place) in Auckland.
Read the article cited by Professor Lisa Whop: An Antiracist Research Framework: Principles, Challenges, and Recommendations for Dismantling Racism Through Research
Read statement: NT Government must work with Aboriginal communities after raising age of criminal responsibility to 12.
As of 1 August, 10 and 11 year old children in the Northern Territory can no longer be arrested, charged with criminal offences or sent to prison. Children under 12 with prior criminal records will also have their records expunged, giving them a fresh start.
Evidence shows that any engagement with the criminal legal system as a child, including the arrest or interrogation of a child by police, can cause harm. This reform is an important first step to a smarter, more humane and restorative approach that keeps children, families and communities safe.
As changes to laws keep younger children away from the justice system, the focus must now turn to working with, and properly resourcing, servi