Health

  • US threatens to veto UN resolution on wartime rapes

    The United States is threatening to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution on combatting rape as a weapon of war because it refers to reproductive and sexual health, senior UN officials and European diplomats say. Germany, which holds the presidency of the Security Council this month, hopes the resolution will be adopted at a special Security Council session on Tuesday. However, the US is threatening to veto the resolution because it makes reference to ... ► Read more

  • Scientists restore circulation and cellular activity in dead pig brains

    Scientists at Yale University have restored circulation and cellular activity in 32 pig brains, four hours after the animals had died. The landmark study found the death of brain cells could be halted and that some connections in the brain were restored. However, no signals from the brains indicated awareness or consciousness. It was previously thought that brains experience an irreversible decline within minutes of having no blood supply, but the study’s results challenge that ... ► Read more

  • Cancer cure con artist Belle Gibson ordered to court over unpaid $410K fine

    Cancer cure con artist Belle Gibson has been summoned by the Federal Court to explain why she hasn’t paid a $410,000 penalty for breaching consumer protection laws. Ms Gibson will appear in the Federal Court on 14 May for examination of her financial affairs, following her failure to comply with the order to pay the fine. She has previously been warned that she faces imprisonment if she fails to pay the penalty — which was ... ► Read more

  • Melbourne factory fire blankets suburbs with smoke

    The waste storage business at the centre of an inferno spewing thick, “acidy” smoke over Melbourne had its licence to operate suspended last month by the environmental watchdog. More than 175 firefighters have been battling the blaze — which is likely to burn for several days — at Bradbury Industrial Services in Campbellfield after a fire broke out about 6:40am. Stu, who works as a welder at a business next door, told the ABC he ... ► Read more

  • Government to close Christmas Island mere months after reopening it

    Less than four months after reopening Christmas Island detention centre, the Government has announced it will close the facility. The centre’s reopening was a $185 million knee-jerk reaction to the passing of the Medevac bill, which gives doctors a greater say in refugee medical transfers to Australia from Manus and Nauru, but ultimately leaves the decision to transfer in the hands of government. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the legislation would encourage people smuggling and ... ► Read more

  • Macquarie Park scaffolding collapse kills apprentice

    One man has been killed and another critically injured after scaffolding at a Macquarie Park high-rise collapsed on Monday. The deceased, Christopher Cassaniti, was a formwork apprentice who only just turned 18 last week. Despite efforts to save him, he died at the scene. The second worker, 39, was freed from the rubble and taken to Royal North Shore Hospital under a police escort. Mr Cassaniti’s parents attended the scene shortly after the collapse. NSW ... ► Read more

  • The psychology of fear and hate, and what each of us can do to stop it

    As an immigrant to New Zealand, I am saddened and outraged by the events in Christchurch. The apparent innocence of New Zealand has been stripped away by acts of cowardice and evil. Police remain on high alert and authorities are still responding to events following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch that took the lives of 50 people and seriously injured many more. Three people have been arrested, and one, an Australian living in ... ► Read more

  • PM announces reopening of Christmas Island detention facility

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced that the Government will reopen the Christmas Island immigration detention facility, following the Government’s defeat on medical treatment for refugees yesterday. The Prime Minister said the facility will be reopened in anticipation of an influx of asylum seeker boats. “We have approved putting in place the reopening of the Christmas Island detention facilities, both to deal with the prospect of arrivals as well as dealing with the prospect of ... ► Read more

  • Government loses vote on own legislation as refugee treatment bill jumps constitutional hurdle

    The Federal Government has lost a vote on its own legislation for the first time in 78 years. On Thursday afternoon the House of Representatives voted in favour of a contentious bill that will allow asylum seekers in detention centres to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment, with doctors having a greater say in the process. Although Labor indicated it was willing to compromise on amendments to the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) ... ► Read more

  • Call for “empathy for the elderly” as Aged Care Royal Commission hearings begin

    Hearings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety began in Adelaide today, with victims’ families and seniors’ groups among those to give evidence. Peter Gray QC, senior counsel assisting the Royal Commission, opened by saying a “culture of appreciation and respect for older people is needed”. Mr Gray also told the Commission that changes made to the aged care sector over the past 30 years have created “unintentional complexities” and the multitude ... ► Read more

  • Victorians experience black outs as AEMO orders load shedding

    Tens of thousands of Victorians are experiencing power outages after the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) directed load shedding across the grid on what is forecast to be Melbourne’s hottest day in a decade. Load shedding occurs when demand is too great, so the energy operator directs power companies to create rolling blackouts in different parts of the network so the entire system is not at risk. Power outages are being reported in a number ... ► Read more

  • Six people charged over alleged million dollar baby formula ring

    A “lucrative” organised crime ring that allegedly sold baby formula stolen from around Sydney on the black market overseas raked in $1 million in just 12 months, police say. Six people have been charged after police received information about coordinated thefts of formula and vitamins from major retailers last year. Detective Superintendent Daniel Doherty said the “unscrupulous activity” was fuelled by greed, and had been operating for years. “Police will continue to pursue these people ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 13 January – 19 January 2019

    Theresa May: Government has confidence of Parliament, time to deliver Brexit British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for bipartisan talks to develop a Brexit deal that will pass the House of Commons. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. NSW Premier under pressure amid fresh calls for pill testing NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is standing firm on her opposition to pill testing, despite pleas from the family of a teenager who died of a ... ► Read more

  • Heatwave set to peak over coming days

    Tennis players are sweating, toxic ozone warnings are out for Sydney and fruit is cooking on the branches — this is a heatwave, Australia. Sarah Fitton is an extreme weather meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), who said the heat would peak over the next few days. There is expected to be a slight reprieve over the weekend before the heat starts to build again across southern Australia early next week. It reached 40C in ... ► Read more

  • Toxic ozone gas warning issued for Western Sydney

    Health authorities have issued a high ozone warning for Western Sydney as New South Wales enters day two of a severe heatwave. NSW Health said ozone levels were likely to rise this afternoon due to a combination of heat and sunlight. Ozone is created when nitrogen oxides from things like car exhausts and air conditioner fumes react with oxygen in the air on hot days. It is colourless, but pungent, and can trigger a variety ... ► Read more

  • NSW Coroner to investigate musical festival deaths

    A directions hearing will be held next Tuesday as the NSW Coroner opens an inquest into recent deaths at music festivals in the state. The inquest will focus on five deaths since September 2018: Diana Nguyen and Joseph Nguyen Nhu Binh Pham at the Defqon 1 festival on 15 September 2018. Callum Brosnan, who died after attending the Knockout — Games of Destiny festival on 9 December 2018. Joshua Tam, who died following the Lost ... ► Read more

  • NSW Premier under pressure amid fresh calls for pill testing

    NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is standing firm on her opposition to pill testing, despite pleas from the family of a teenager who died of a suspected overdose after taking drugs at a music festival. Alex Ross-King, 19, died after she was rushed from the FOMO festival at Parramatta Park to Westmead Hospital on Saturday night. It was the fifth such death in NSW since mid-September. “Premier please can we have this pill testing done,” her ... ► Read more

  • Australia set to sweat as heatwave hits every state and territory

    Temperatures across every state and Territory will soar on Monday as Australia braces for a potentially record-breaking heatwave. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecasts low intensity heatwave conditions in parts of central Western Australia to southern parts of the Northern Territory, southwestern Queensland and across NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. It will be worst in South Australia where multiple days of temperatures above 40C, an unusual event even for summer, meteorologist Dean Narramore said, ... ► Read more

  • NSW Government to ban mobile phones in primary schools

    The NSW Government will introduce a ban on mobile phones in state primary schools from 2019 to reduce bullying and distractions in classrooms, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Seven’s Sunrise on Thursday morning. “Mobile phones, unfortunately, are not only distracting but also causing stress for young children, and we can’t have that continue,” Ms Berejiklian said. “We’re sending a very strong message to everybody that children need to be protected.” The announcement followed an expert review of mobile ... ► Read more

  • Asylum seekers to allege torture in class actions against Australian Government

    Asylum seekers will allege that the Australian Government subjected them to “torture, crimes against humanity and the intentional infliction of harm” as part of two class actions concerning Australia’s offshore processing system. The cases have been filed in the High Court of Australia and represent all remaining detainees on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, and on Nauru. Their legal team, led by Julian Burnside QC and human rights lawyers from the non-profit National Justice ... ► Read more

  • Knockout Games of Destiny death renews calls for pill testing

    Another Sydney music festival death has renewed calls for pill testing at major events but the NSW Premier is standing firm against the measure. A 19-year-old man died in Concord Hospital early on Sunday while two women, aged 19 and 25, and a man are in critical but stable conditions at Westmead Hospital after suspected drug overdoses at the Knockout Games of Destiny dance party at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday night. NSW Police Assistant ... ► Read more

  • Government faces defeat on critical refugee legislation

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing a humiliating defeat as his Government may be unable to block a bill that would expedite medical treatment for refugees held in offshore detention centres. Independent MP Dr Kerryn Phelps introduced a bill to the House of Representatives on Monday to require refugee children and their families in Nauru and Manus Island be transferred to Australia for medical and psychiatric assessment. But, despite the possibility of receiving support from ... ► Read more

  • PM promises conscience vote on LGBTI+ students after Parliament delays bill

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of breaking a promise to end discrimination against LGBTI+ students, after the Federal Parliament failed to reach agreement on a bill and delayed the matter until next year. Mr Morrison has responded by pledging to introduce his preferred version of the legislation as a private member’s bill, with Coalition MPs to be given a conscience vote on the issue. Under his proposal, religious schools would not be able ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 19 November – 24 November 2018

    Ivanka Trump used personal email account for government business The daughter of US President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, last year used a personal email account to discuss or relay official White House business, according to emails released by a nonpartisan watchdog group. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Dozens of homes at threat as NSW bushfire flares up A bushfire emergency has been declared in NSW’s Hunter region with homes threatened at Salt Ash ... ► Read more

  • Queensland woman to face court over strawberry contamination

    A Queensland woman has been charged over the strawberry needle crisis that forced supermarkets to pull fruit from shelves and farmers to dump it by the truckload. The woman, from Caboolture in Brisbane’s north, was charged on Sunday evening with seven counts of goods contamination. Police say one occasion of aggravation contamination will be alleged, meaning the 50-year-old woman will face a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted. She was arrested amid a ... ► Read more

  • Total fire bans in eastern NSW as temperatures soar

    Total fire bans are in place in four areas of eastern New South Wales as temperatures hit 37 degrees Celsius in parts of Sydney on Friday. The fire danger rating in the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Illawarra/Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges regions was upgraded from “very high” to “severe”, and a total fire ban is in place in those areas. The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) warned that high temperatures and strong winds of up to ... ► Read more

  • George Brandis: children to be off Nauru by year’s end

    Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK George Brandis says he expects there will be no children of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru by the end of the year. More children have been transferred for treatment, with Government sources confirming there are now 40 on the Pacific Island — down from 52 last week. Political pressure has been mounting on the Coalition to transfer all children off the island, as top medical professionals warn of ... ► Read more

  • Refugee advocates: Nauru detainees quietly flown to Adelaide

    Asylum-seeker families are being quietly flown from Australia’s offshore processing centre on Nauru to Adelaide, according to some advocates. Nauru Airlines does not fly commercially to Adelaide, but its planes have been seen at the airport as recently as Monday. The latest monthly figures from Border Force are for the month from September 1 to September 30, when there were no asylum seekers transferred to Australia or any other country. However, some families may have ... ► Read more

  • Queensland Parliament votes to legalise abortion

    The Parliament of Queensland voted on Wednesday night to legalise abortion in the state, in an historic reform to the centuries-old prohibition. The Queensland Government’s proposal to legalise abortion passed through the Parliament with 50 votes to 41, after all MPs were given a conscience vote. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018 will ensure that abortion services can be accessed and performed without fear or stigma. “It’s taken a century to ... ► Read more

  • Nike offers professional contract to athlete with cerebral palsy

    Justin Gallegos has become Nike’s first professional athlete with cerebral palsy, after the sports brand offered him a contract when he completed a marathon. Mr Gallegos, a student at the University of Oregon, was met at the finish line by a video crew and Nike’s Insights Director John Douglas. Although he thought the cameras were there to film the event, Mr Gallegos was surprised when Mr Douglas offered him the contract, breaking down in tears ... ► Read more

  • “Australia is a stimulant nation” according to Criminal Intelligence Commission report

    A comparison of 23 countries shows Australia ranks second in estimated stimulant consumption, according to a report released by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) on Tuesday. The fifth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program included comparisons with the United States, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and 18 European Union members, and found that Australia is a leading consumer of MDMA, cocaine, amphetamine, and methylamphetamine. The ACIC noted a decrease in methylamphetamine consumption between December ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 30 September 2018 – 6 October 2018

    Indonesia earthquake: death toll rises to nearly 1350 The number of confirmed deaths in Indonesia following Friday’s earthquake and tsunami has risen to 1,347, disaster response officials say. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. US Senate votes on Kavanaugh confirmation The United States Senate voted on whether to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday, after President Donald Trump gave the Senate Judiciary Committee an FBI report on accusations of sexual misconduct ... ► Read more

  • States and territories agree to scrap “tampon tax”

    The 10% tax on tampons and pads will be removed after states and territories agreed to make sanitary products exempt from the GST, bringing an end to an 18-year campaign calling for the tax to be scrapped. Treasurers met on Wednesday morning to discuss the matter and unanimously agreed to pass the Federal Government’s proposal. The products to be made exempt are expected to include tampons, pads, menstrual cups, maternity pads and leak-proof underwear, but ... ► Read more

  • US, Mexico and Canada agree to new trade deal

    On Monday (local time), the leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada formally agreed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a new trade deal. NAFTA, which has been in force since 1994, will be superseded by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to govern the more than US $1.2 trillion in trade between the three countries. Most of the key provisions of USMCA will not come into effect until 2020, to ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 23 – 29 September 2018

    Judge Brett Kavanaugh faces second sexual misconduct allegation United States Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct by a second woman, following allegations last week that he sexually assaulted a woman at a party in 1982. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump boasts met with laughter by UN General Assembly United States President Donald Trump gave a wide-ranging speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, which ... ► Read more

  • NSW Health confirms fifth case of legionnaires’ disease in Western Sydney

    A fifth case of legionnaires’ disease has been reported to health authorities as Western Sydney’s outbreak continues. On Tuesday NSW Health confirmed an interstate resident had contracted the infection after visiting the Lidcombe area earlier this month. Western Sydney Local Health District officials have warned anyone who recently visited Lidcombe to be wary of symptoms including fever, chills, coughing, and shortness of breath. A water cooling system in the suburb was decontaminated on 17 September ... ► Read more

  • Federal Government announces free meningococcal vaccine for Australian teens

    Australian teenagers will receive a publicly-funded meningococcal vaccine against four strains of the potentially fatal disease, the Federal Government announced on Tuesday. The vaccine will be added to the National Immunisation Schedule from April 2019, and will be available to more than a million Australians aged 14–19 over the next four years at a cost of $52 million. The announcement comes as cases of meningococcal have risen in Australia, with 382 cases in 2017, up ... ► Read more

  • Government, aged-care sector to establish royal commission scope

    The Government will work with aged-care providers to determine the terms of reference for the newly announced royal commission into the sector, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Sunday. Mr Morrison announced the royal commission in response to findings of widespread non-compliance and abuse of elderly people at aged-care facilities. According to the Minister for Health Greg Hunt, there was a 177% increase in the number of aged-care homes where a serious risk to ... ► Read more

  • Indian Supreme Court decriminalises consensual gay sex

    The Supreme Court of India decriminalised consensual gay sex in a unanimous decision delivered in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon (local time). A five-judge bench determined that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” with up to life imprisonment, shall no longer apply to homosexual activity. “Any discrimination on the basis of one‘s sexual orientation would entail a violation ... ► Read more

  • Syrian President’s wife Asma al-Assad diagnosed with breast cancer

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Syria’s official state news agency reported on Wednesday (local time). Asma al-Assad, the British-born first lady of Syria, is currently being treated for early stage breast cancer at a military hospital in Damascus. The Syrian President tweeted a photo of him sitting along his wife as she received treatment, saying, “With strength and confidence and faith, lady Asma al-Assad starts the first stage of ... ► Read more

  • Homeopathy all but eradicated from National Health Service in England

    Publicly-funded homeopathy is all but over in England, after Bristol’s Clinical Commissioning Group decided to cease providing homeopathic treatments under the National Health Service (NHS). Bristol was the last place in England to offer NHS-funded homeopathic treatment, and it will now be provided only in exceptional circumstances. Homeopathy uses treatments based on the idea that “like cures like” — that minute doses of natural substances that produce similar symptoms as an illness can be used ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 29 July – 4 August 2018

    Trump’s offer to meet with Rouhani rebuked on both sides US President Donald Trump’s offer to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been shot down both from within his own administration and senior figures in Iran. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump on Mueller investigation: “Stop this rigged witch hunt right now’ US President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to condemn special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in ... ► Read more

  • Australian scientists discover new anti-cancer drug without usual side-effects

    Scientists in Melbourne have discovered a new class of anti-cancer drug that lacks the usual side-effects of current cancer treatments. Published in the journal Nature, their research shows the class of drugs puts cancer cells permanently “to sleep”. The research was a joint effort by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Cancer Therapeutics CRC, The University of Melbourne, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the CSIRO. Unlike conventional treatments such as ... ► Read more

  • Government announces increased privacy protections for My Health Records

    In response to concerns over the adequacy of privacy protections, the Federal Government has announced changes to the My Health Records system to allow deletion of records and restrict government access to patient data. After meeting with doctors from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and College of General Practitioners to discuss privacy concerns on Tuesday night, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced changes will be made to the My Health Records Act 2012. Australians will be ... ► Read more

  • Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Bill would cost $32.6 trillion, working paper claims

    A working paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University claims that US Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposed Medicare for All Bill (“M4A Bill”) would cost approximately USD $32.6 trillion over the first decade of implementation (2022–2031). According to the paper’s author, Charles Blahous, the “projected increase in federal healthcare commitments would equal approximately 10.7% of GDP in 2022, rising to nearly 12.7% of GDP in 2031 and further thereafter.” The increased costs would ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 22 – 28 July 2018

    Nine Network to takeover Fairfax Media The Nine Network will takeover Fairfax Media in a deal rumoured to be worth around $4 billion, Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood announced on Thursday morning. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Greece declares state of emergency as lethal wildfires rage near Athens Greece has declared a state of emergency after two separate wildfires raged through towns near its capital Athens, killing at least 20 people, injuring over 100 ... ► Read more

  • Liberal MP Tim Wilson opts-out of My Health Record, says scheme should be ‘opt-in’

    Liberal MP Tim Wilson has opted out of the Government’s new My Health Record scheme, calling for the medical record system to be “opt-in” to give people more of a choice. The system will centralise individuals’ health records to ensure easy and secure access by self and medical professionals at any time required. The Melbourne-based MP voiced his criticism of how the scheme is being introduced, saying that a default position of not being included ... ► Read more

  • Australians struggle to opt out of My Health Record

    Although Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said 20,000 Australians had already opted out of the My Health Record system, many have reported experiencing difficulty completing the process. The My Health Record system is a centralised national digital database of Australians’ health information, intended to give patients better control over their information and make access by health professionals easier. Users who don’t want a My Health Record have until 15 October 2018 to opt out. Some users ... ► Read more

  • Australians have three months to opt-out of national health database

    Australians who do not want their medical records stored in the national electronic database will have three months from today to opt-out. Although the Federal Government’s Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) has moved to reassure Australians that their My Health Record will be secure, Australians can opt-out until 15 October 2018. “If you haven’t deliberately opted out by the end of 2018, you will have a My Health Record,” Dr Steve Hambleton of the ADHA said. ... ► Read more

  • WTO rules for Australia in tobacco plain packaging dispute

    Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 has contributed to improving public health, a World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel ruled on Thursday. The panel rejected arguments brought by Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Indonesia that alternative measures would be equally effective, and disagreed that Australia’s law unjustifiably limited the exercise of intellectual property rights. The four complainant countries alleged that Australia had breached article 2.2 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, which prohibits ... ► Read more

  • Abortion clinic “safe zones” introduced in NSW

    Photo credit: J Bar (Wikimedia) — CC BY 3.0 licence The NSW Parliament has passed legislation that imposes 150-metre “safe access zones” around clinics and hospitals that provide abortions, under which protesters face imprisonment for harassing people outside of the facilities. The Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics) Bill 2018, which now awaits assent from the Governor of NSW, aims to ensure the privacy and safety of women accessing the clinics, and ... ► Read more