Informed, engaged communities for health

Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
codesign
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NNF2021
#RANZCP2021
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Croakey Professional Services
#BetterCareCOVID
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#HealthClimateSolutions21
ACSQHC series
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
Inside Story
Journal Watch
PIJ Commissions 2020
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
global health
NHS
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Health workers
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
aged care
allied health care
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
health reform
health regulation
health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
nurses and nursing
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
primary health care
Primary Health Networks
private health insurance
quality and safety of health care
rural and remote health
screening
sexual health
social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
PIJ Commissions 2021
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
public health
public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
discrimination
education
housing
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart
poverty
racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Tasmanian election 2021
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards
#VMIACAwards18
#WISPC18
2019 Conferences
#ACEM19
#CPHCE19
#EquallyWellAust
#GiantSteps19
#HealthAdvocacyWIM
#KTthatWorks
#LowitjaConf2019
#MHAgeing
#NNF2019
#OKtoAsk2019
#RANZCOG19
#RANZCP2019
#ruralhealthconf
#VMIAC2019
#WHOcollabAHPRA
Croakey Professional Services archive
#bettercareseries
#CommunityControl Twitter Festival
ACSQHC series 2019
Croakey projects archive
#IndigenousHealthSummit
#IndigenousNCDs
#JustClimate
#JustJustice
Croakey register of influence
Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health
Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents
Naked Doctor
Poems of Public Health
Summer Reading 2016-2017
Summer Reading 2017-2018
The Koori Woman
Wonky Health
CroakeyGO archive 2017 – 2018
CroakeyGo 2017
#CroakeyGO Adelaide 2017
#CroakeyGO Melbourne 2017
#CroakeyGO Newcastle 2017
#CroakeyGO Sydney 2017
CroakeyGo 2018
#CroakeyGO #QuantumWords 2018
#CroakeyGO #VicVotes 2018
#CroakeyGO Albury 2018
#CroakeyGO Callan Park 2018
#CroakeyGO Carnarvon 2018
#CroakeyGO Marrickville 2018
#CroakeyGO Palm Island 2018
Elections and Budgets 2013 – 2019
#AusVotesHealth Twitter Festival 2019
#Health4NSW
#HealthElection16
Federal Budget 2009-2010
Federal Budget 2010
Federal Budget 2011
Federal Budget 2012-2013
Federal Budget 2013-14
Federal Budget 2014-15
Federal Budget 2015-16
Federal Budget 2016-17
Federal Budget 2017/18
Federal Budget 2018-19
Federal Election 2010
Federal Election 2013
Federal Election 2016
Federal Election 2019
NSW Election 2015
NSW Election 2019
NT Election 2016
Qld Election 2015
Victorian Election 2014
WA election 2021
Support non-profit public interest journalism
Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
codesign
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NNF2021
#RANZCP2021
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Croakey Professional Services
#BetterCareCOVID
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#HealthClimateSolutions21
ACSQHC series
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
Inside Story
Journal Watch
PIJ Commissions 2020
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
global health
NHS
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Health workers
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
aged care
allied health care
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
health reform
health regulation
health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
nurses and nursing
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
primary health care
Primary Health Networks
private health insurance
quality and safety of health care
rural and remote health
screening
sexual health
social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
PIJ Commissions 2021
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
public health
public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
discrimination
education
housing
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart
poverty
racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Tasmanian election 2021
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards
#VMIACAwards18
#WISPC18
2019 Conferences
#ACEM19
#CPHCE19
#EquallyWellAust
#GiantSteps19
#HealthAdvocacyWIM
#KTthatWorks
#LowitjaConf2019
#MHAgeing
#NNF2019
#OKtoAsk2019
#RANZCOG19
#RANZCP2019
#ruralhealthconf
#VMIAC2019
#WHOcollabAHPRA
Croakey Professional Services archive
#bettercareseries
#CommunityControl Twitter Festival
ACSQHC series 2019
Croakey projects archive
#IndigenousHealthSummit
#IndigenousNCDs
#JustClimate
#JustJustice
Croakey register of influence
Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health
Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents
Naked Doctor
Poems of Public Health
Summer Reading 2016-2017
Summer Reading 2017-2018
The Koori Woman
Wonky Health
CroakeyGO archive 2017 – 2018
CroakeyGo 2017
#CroakeyGO Adelaide 2017
#CroakeyGO Melbourne 2017
#CroakeyGO Newcastle 2017
#CroakeyGO Sydney 2017
CroakeyGo 2018
#CroakeyGO #QuantumWords 2018
#CroakeyGO #VicVotes 2018
#CroakeyGO Albury 2018
#CroakeyGO Callan Park 2018
#CroakeyGO Carnarvon 2018
#CroakeyGO Marrickville 2018
#CroakeyGO Palm Island 2018
Elections and Budgets 2013 – 2019
#AusVotesHealth Twitter Festival 2019
#Health4NSW
#HealthElection16
Federal Budget 2009-2010
Federal Budget 2010
Federal Budget 2011
Federal Budget 2012-2013
Federal Budget 2013-14
Federal Budget 2014-15
Federal Budget 2015-16
Federal Budget 2016-17
Federal Budget 2017/18
Federal Budget 2018-19
Federal Election 2010
Federal Election 2013
Federal Election 2016
Federal Election 2019
NSW Election 2015
NSW Election 2019
NT Election 2016
Qld Election 2015
Victorian Election 2014
WA election 2021

The Health Wrap: on elections, budgets, bushfires, bilbies and more

How do presidential contenders Donald Trump and Joe Biden stack up when it comes to COVID-19? How will the pandemic continue to affect us, even if a vaccine is developed? And how are bilbies contributing to healing?

These questions, and more, are addressed in the latest edition of The Health Wrap, by Associate Professor Lesley Russell.


Lesley Russell writes:

So far there has been little substantive focus on policy in the US election campaign (to the extent that the Republican National Committee did not even pass a policy platform this year). However, that will likely change when the debates start.

So here is a brief comparison of the coronavirus policy announcements to date from President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Every day the news is full of the statements, decisions, interferences and antics of Trump and his administration with respect to the pandemic. Trump has done almost nothing to spell out his agenda for his second term in any area, even on issues that are important to voters like health and the pandemic.

His proposal to “eradicate COVID-19” consists of just four dot points:

  • Develop a vaccine by the end of 2020
  • Return to normal in 2021
  • Make all critical medicines and supplies for healthcare workers in the United States
  • Refill stockpiles and prepare for future pandemics.

On the global front, in line with a general foreign policy approach of “America First”, the Administration has chosen not to participate in several high-level international efforts to address COVID-19, has ended funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), and has announced its intent to withdraw from WHO membership – all actions that mark a significant departure from the role the US has historically played, including its major role in tackling the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Democratic candidate and former Vice President, Joe Biden, has outlined a number of measures for how he would address the coronavirus pandemic. His approach calls for the Federal Government, not the states, to assume primary responsibility for many aspects of the coronavirus response, including for scaling up testing and contact tracing, providing and managing the distribution of critical supplies, and setting strong national standards.

Biden has put forth the following principles in his proposed response to COVID-19:

  • Restoring trust, credibility, and common purpose
  • Mounting an effective national emergency response that saves lives, protects frontline workers, and minimizes the spread of COVID-19
  • Eliminating cost barriers for prevention of and care for COVID-19
  • Pursuing decisive economic measures to help hard-hit workers, families, and small businesses and to stabilize the American economy
  • Rallying the world to confront this crisis while laying the foundation for the future.

His plans call for the appointment of a “Supply Commander” to oversee a national supply chain of essential equipment, medications, protective gear, directing distribution of critical equipment to the states,  and to make more aggressive use of the Defense Production Act to direct companies to produce needed supplies.

He would also establish a “COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force”.

Biden proposes measures to further extend fiscal relief to individuals, schools and businesses, to provide enhanced insurance coverage, to support states in providing COVID-19 related services, and to eliminate cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments. He would further expand paid leave for sick workers and those caring for family members due to COVID-19 and provide additional pay for frontline/essential workers.

On vaccine pricing, he would authorise the Federal Government to approve the price of any COVID-19 vaccine developed with federal resources, in contrast to the Trump Administration, which has said it does not want to pursue price controls.

On the global front, Biden would “re-embrace international engagement” and restore funding to the WHO and reverse the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from WHO membership. He would restore the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense at the National Security Council (established by Obama and abolished by Trump) and work to create a Global Health Emergency Board to harmonise the crisis response for vulnerable communities internationally.

It’s worth noting that as Vice President, Biden was part of the Obama Administration’s response to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and 2016 Zika outbreak.

Croakey is planning some online events around the US election and global health, and I am looking forward to discussing these issues with my Croakey colleague Summer May Finlay and Bruce Wolpe.

Stay tuned for more details, and save the dates: 5pm AEST on Sunday 18 October and 2pm AEST (or later) Wednesday 4 November.

Also, see this recent Covering Climate Now collaboration cross-post at Croakey, by Bill McKibben: On election day, it won’t be just Americans watching.

Image: Mitchell Ward

Coronavirus vaccines – building a bulwark against politics

It is now widely acknowledged that – regardless of the availability of needed data – President Trump will make politically motivated announcements about coronavirus vaccine success ahead of the election on November 3.

This has combined with some strong anti-vaxxer sentiments in the US to undermine public confidence in vaccines. A recent survey found that only 51 percent of adult Americans now say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 if it were available today (down from 72 percent in May). Nearly as many (49 percent) say they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated at this time.

On the heels of a pledge from nine pharmaceutical companies to ensure that a potential vaccine would meet rigorous standards, some of these companies have also moved to reveal their study designs and evaluation procedures in attempts to boost public trust and counter the confusion sown by Trump. AstraZeneca – Oxford University, Modern and Pfizer and, most recently, Johnson & Johnson, have all made their vaccine trial blueprints public.

Meanwhile a group of African American doctors, organised by the National Medical Association (NMA), has created an expert task force to independently assess regulators’ decisions about coronavirus drugs and vaccines as well as government recommendations for curbing the pandemic.

“It’s necessary to provide a trusted messenger of vetted information to the African American community,” said the NMA president.

The task force will also evaluate how well the clinical trial participants represent the demographic breakdown of the American population, as well as the fairness of federal plans to distribute a vaccine — both of which are especially important given the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on African American, Latino, and Native American communities.

The Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used an opinion piece in The Washington Post to try to reassure the public, stating that “only a safe and effective vaccine will get our approval”. But after last week’s debacle over the censoring of information provided by the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who could believe that?

The FDA is set to release new guidance that would raise safety and efficacy requirements for a vaccine emergency use authorisation – with standards it says will be above earlier guidance and above the criteria used for convalescent plasma or hydroxychloroquine.

However, on September 15 the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Alex Azar, assumed all final authority in deciding new rules from HHS agencies, including the FDA. This will make it more difficult for FDA to issue stronger rules and regulations.

Trump followed this up with comments to the media that the White House “may or may not” approve the new FDA guidelines, saying that this “sounds like a political move”.

It is appropriate that a number of public health officials and medical commentators are pointing out that the advent of a safe and effective vaccine signals the beginning of a real coronavirus response, not the end (see, for example, this article by Aaron Carroll in The New York Times).

Even assuming the vaccine can be distributed widely and quickly, that most people will get it, and that distribution will be prioritised so that those most at risk will get it first (this might happen it Australia, but it is unlikely in the US, especially under a Trump Administration) – the approval of a vaccine marks only the beginning of a new stage in the response to coronavirus, not the end.

Until there is convincing evidence that a vaccine has a large and lasting population-level effect, there will still be a need to wear a mask, to distance and socially isolate.

The advent of a vaccine does not mean life will return to pre-pandemic normal.


Links between mental illness and COVID-19

The Lancet has just published a study from South Korea showing that a diagnosis of a mental illness is not associated with increased likelihood of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. Patients with a severe mental illness had a slightly higher risk for severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19 than patients without a history of mental illness – presumably reflecting  that fact with people with mental illness are more likely to have co-morbidities and these are less likely to be well managed.

These findings are what you would intuitively expect and are in line with the evidence that people with a mental illness have a higher mortality and a poorer prognosis than the general population when they are diagnosed with any disease.

But another recent paper published in The BMJ, which used UK Biobank data, found that pre-pandemic psychiatric disorders were associated with an increased risk of coronavirus infection and especially with severe and fatal COVID-19.

The excess risk was observed across all levels of somatic comorbidities and subtypes of pre-pandemic psychiatric disorders. The authors propose that altered immune responses might be involved.

As a commentary in The Lancet Psychiatry in April said:

Few voices of this large but vulnerable population of people with mental health disorders have been heard during this epidemic.

Epidemics never affect all populations equally and inequalities can always drive the spread of infections.

As mental health and public health professionals, we call for adequate and necessary attention to people with mental health disorders in the COVID-19 epidemic.”


Mental health in the 2020-21 Federal Budget

We are all waiting expectantly (but perhaps not very optimistically) to see what is in the Morrison Government’s 2020 – 21 Budget, to be delivered October 6, for health and healthcare. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed some huge needs, especially as far as mental health services are concerned.

This month a group of a group of Melbourne GPs wrote to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews reporting up to fivefold increases in the number of cases of people with mental health problems they see daily, including young teenagers at risk of suicide.

Failure to address these needs effectively now will mean huge costs (economic and social) for individuals and the nation in the future.

Modelling done by the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Institute (BMI) shows that the mental health bill for the nation­ due to COVID-19 lockdowns and unemployment could be as high as $114 billion over the next five years. The total costs might be even higher: The Canberra Times reports that the Productivity Commission estimates mental ill-health and suicide are costing Australia up to $180 billion per year.

The BMI report calls for an “urgent” $2.2 billion boost to community-based mental health services to address the current shortage of mental health services that will see more people turning to hospital emergency departments (EDs) as the only available help.

The tsunami of ED presentations predicted is already being reported – and the ED is not a good place for people in mental health crisis to get the care they need.

A recent report from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) looks at why Australia’s mental health system is failing people who present to the emergency department in mental health crisis, and the urgent reforms that are needed.

It makes the case that more needs to be done in the community to avoid the types of crises that precipitate a visit to the ED, and that more appropriate, timely treatment options are needed to minimise ED waiting times for people seeking mental health care.

Dr Simon Judkins, the Immediate Past President of ACEM, wrote an article about this report for Croakey, calling Emergency Departments “the canary in the coalmine for mental healthcare system failure”.

There’s been a lot of focus on telehealth services for mental health and they have certainly helped improve access.

But recent research highlights that these services are not always suitable. A pre-print of an Australian study, published in early September, found that  telehealth is less effective for mental health services, most commonly because communication was perceived to be less effective. Such findings indicate that simply expanding telehealth mental health services will not be sufficient to meet the needs of those who seek care.

In an opinion piece on telehealth published in the Medical Republic, Dr Helen Schultz, a consultant psychiatrist, writes that in these pandemic times “telehealth has been a blessing and a curse”.

Dr Sebastian Rosenberg wrote an article for Croakey, based on the Budget submission made by BMI and the Australian National University, about the big budget boost that is needed for mental health in order to address both the needs exposed by the pandemic and the longer-term reforms.

I am not optimistic that we will see anything to do with longer-term reforms because Health Minister Greg Hunt has, to date, failed to release the Productivity Commission’s mental health report, which was handed to the Government on 30 June.

You can read the Spring update from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health system here.

As my Croakey colleague Marie McInerney reminds us, it’s not only the health portfolio that matters when it comes to health impacts of the budget: #AusterityKills.

Please join the Croakey team in using the hashtag #Budget2020Health to share on Twitter health-related budget news.


More on the health impacts of bushfires

If you are a regular reader of The Health Wrap or follow me on Twitter, then you know that I have often argued the need for continuing research on the long-term effects of bushfires.

Here is the case I made in January: Why it is imperative to start now to study and research the long-term health effects from bushfires.

And here is the case made by my colleague Jennifer Doggett in June: Summer’s legacy.

This month has seen new data and research that adds to the case.  A paper from Australian academics with expertise in this area, published in in Nature Sustainability (sadly behind a paywall), compared the health costs of the past 20 fire seasons across Australia. It finds that the healthcare costs of the 2019-2020 bushfire season were unprecedented, with a cascade of hospital admissions and premature deaths.

The 2019-2020 bushfire season had a health cost of $1.95 billion –  about three and a half times the next highest estimate of $566 million for 2002-2003. NSW bore the brunt of the cost ($1.07 billion), followed by Victoria ($493 million) and Queensland ($224 million).

According to the researchers, “relatively few studies” have looked at the health costs of bushfire smoke exposure and this work needs to be included when considering future investments in fire management.

There are news media summaries of this research from the Sydney Morning Herald here and from RenewEconomy here.

A recent Insight article for The Medical Journal of Australia on what is known about the long-term impacts of bushfire smoke is headed “yesterday was the time to talk about it”. It highlights what is known about the impact on pregnant women and their babies, and this recent Croakey article by Rebecca Green brings a personal focus to these issues, ‘The summer everything changed’.

While some research is underway, funded by the Medical Research Future Fund, much more needs to be done.

Given the dreadful impact the Morrison Government’s policies are having on university staffing and research, one might ask how, where and when this will be funded and conducted, especially now that the focus has shifted to coronavirus.


Social prescribing

A number of issues coalesced this past week and got me researching the potential role of social prescribing links workers in primary care, sub-acute care and even aged care in Australia.

First, there was this piece on “Home based and community health care” by Professor Mary Chiarella, which looks at the healthcare teams and funding models that would support increased used of home-based and community health care.

In the context of the Royal Commission on Aged Care Quality and Safety there is the debate about staffing levels and the related issue of how to ensure people get both the medical care and the social attention they need (whether they are living at home or in a residential aged care facility). Read the review of innovative aged care models prepared for the Royal Commission here.

And then there is the perennial issue of how to help people with chronic illness (both physical and mental) to better manage their conditions.

In the UK, a workforce is especially charged with helping patients manage the intersection between medical care and social care – the social prescribing links worker.  This is a role that is not unlike that of case manager or care navigator, but they operate in primary care with a focus beyond the healthcare system.

It is interesting to note an emphasis on addressing loneliness and isolation. In the UK it is estimated that one in five people who visit a GP surgery do not have a medical problem but could benefit from a healthier lifestyle or greater social interaction – that is likely similar in Australia.

Here’s how NHS England describes social prescribing and the role of links workers:

Social prescribing is a key component of Universal Personalised Care.

Social prescribing is a way for local agencies to refer people to a link worker. Link workers give people time, focusing on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. They connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support.”

NHS England says social prescribing works for a wide range of people, including those:

  • with one or more long-term conditions
  • who need support with their mental health
  • who are lonely or isolated
  • who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing.

It says:

When social prescribing works well, people can be easily referred to link workers from a wide range of local agencies, including general practice, pharmacies, multi-disciplinary teams, hospital discharge teams, allied health professionals, fire service, police, job centres, social care services, housing associations and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations. Self-referral is also encouraged.”

Social prescribing links workers have been in place in some parts of the UK for a while (there are currently about 1,500 links workers) and recently there have been efforts to boost this.

There is neither time nor space to explore this approach in greater detail. This paper “Link Worker social prescribing to improve health and well-being for people with long-term conditions: qualitative study of service user perceptions” found that most program participants surveyed experienced multimorbidity combined with mental health problems, low self-confidence and social isolation. All were adversely affected physically, emotionally and socially by their health problems.

The intervention of social links workers engendered feelings of control and self-confidence, reduced social isolation and had a positive impact on health-related behaviours including weight loss, healthier eating and increased physical activity. Thus the value of a holistic approach to health is highlighted – no surprise!

Clearly this an approach worth exploring as part of needed primary care reforms in Australia, especially if doctors’ organisations were more willing to think beyond general practice and fee-for-service models of primary care and alternative financing mechanisms for the primary care team.

Social prescribing has been considered and discussed by a number of organisations and groups (see for example, this report from a roundtable on social prescribing held by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Consumers; Health Forum in November 2019). There are also at least a few pilot programs – for example, Plus Social which is operated by the Gold Coast Primary Health Network, whose website also has some useful links to evidence and references.

I found this Scottish evaluation from 2017, which I think does a good job of highlighting the implementation problems.

This year Croakey has published these articles on social prescribing:

February 11, 2020: Primary care push for a social prescribing scheme

May 13, 2020: ‘Iso’ – a spur to think about social prescribing

June 19, 2020: How social prescribing can improve health and wellbeing


Dementia Action week

It didn’t get much attention, but this past week (September 21 – 27) was Dementia Action Week. There’s been some interesting news around dementia – some good, some not.

An article published in JAMA Global Health this month looks at what is known about preventing, or at least delaying, dementia. Recently international experts have expanded the list of risk factors that, if reduced or eliminated, could prevent or delay 40 percent of dementia cases worldwide.

In a 2017 report, The Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care identified nine preventable risk factors for dementia: having little or no education, hypertension, untreated hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes, and low social contact.

Since then, the Commission has reported there are three additional preventable dementia risk factors: head injuries, excessive alcohol consumption in midlife, and air pollution exposure in later life (is this last one a link to bushfire smoke?)

To prevent or delay dementia, the Commission recommends the following actions:

  • Provide primary and elementary education for all children
  • Prevent obesity and diabetes
  • Reduce air pollution and exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Prevent smoking initiation and encourage smoking cessation
  • Prevent hearing loss and encourage hearing aid use
  • Prevent head injuries
  • Maintain systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or lower in midlife, limit alcohol to fewer than 21 servings per week, and maintain an active lifestyle.

Also in the news is the huge increase seen in the United States in the number of deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia; deaths from these causes rose more than 20 percent over normal during the American summer.

An analysis of CDC data by The Washington Post shows that more than 134,200 people have died from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia since March. That is 13,200 more deaths from these causes than expected, compared with previous years. A similar analysis by Politico delivered similar findings.

These deaths are seen as linked to the true toll of the coronavirus pandemic and among the sources of excess deaths, dementia has produced by far the most — more than the next two categories, diabetes and heart disease, combined.

Some of the reasons are that people with dementia have not had the medical treatment, the daily care or the social interactions they need during the pandemic. It sadly is a case of “out of sight, out of mind” or, worse, that the lives of these people are not considered valuable.

Do we have any idea what is happening in Australian aged care facilities?

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that deaths from pneumonia, diabetes and dementia did spike above longer-term averages through the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic (to the end of May). No more recent data are available.

Source: The ABS

The pandemic has not only significantly affected the care of people with dementia – it has also adversely impacted research, especially behavioural research.

Alzheimer Europe has called for urgent action to address the impact of COVID-19 on dementia research and outlined the effect on existing projects.


The best of Croakey

Check out the #FreeHer campaign, as reported by Debbie Kilroy, Tabitha Lean and Vickie Roach.

And please follow the #JusticeCOVID Twitter festival on Tuesday 29th from 11am AEST-1pm AEST. It will be moderated by Dr Tess Ryan, and I will be presenting on the global picture on prisons and the pandemic.


Good news story – the bilby revival

More than 100 years ago the bilby – Australia’s cute marsupial version of the Easter bunny – was declared extinct in the wild in New South Wales. But now that has changed. In 2019, 50 bilbies were released into Mallee Cliffs national park (now predator-free) in the south-east of the state, and now ecologists have reported these bilbies are breeding and there are bilby joeys.

To add to the good news, this month ten bilbies have been released into Stuart national park in the north-western corner of NSW.

For the local Wongkumara people, the region’s Traditional Owners, the return of the bilby to these lands is seen as a healing process for the land.

There are just 9,000 bilbies in Australia and the reintroduction of the small marsupial into these special enclosures aims to increase that number by 17 percent.


Croakey thanks and acknowledges Dr Lesley Russell for providing this column as a probono service to our readers. Follow her on Twitter at @LRussellWolpe.

Previous editions of The Health Wrap can be read here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Search by: Categories or tags

Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
codesign
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NNF2021
#RANZCP2021
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Croakey Professional Services
#BetterCareCOVID
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#HealthClimateSolutions21
ACSQHC series
Healthdirect Australia series 2019
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
Inside Story
Journal Watch
PIJ Commissions 2020
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
global health
NHS
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Health workers
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
aged care
allied health care
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
health reform
health regulation
health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
nurses and nursing
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
primary health care
Primary Health Networks
private health insurance
quality and safety of health care
rural and remote health
screening
sexual health
social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
PIJ Commissions 2021
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
public health
public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
discrimination
education
housing
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart
poverty
racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Tasmanian election 2021
Testing Croakey News category 1
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013