Health

  • 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