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A fair shot: MSF launches global #AskPharma campaign for fairer vaccine prices

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) last week launched a global campaign –‘A fair shot’. It’s calling on pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer to slash the price of the pneumococcal vaccine in developing countries to US$5 per child, so more children can be protected from this childhood killer, and to disclose what they currently [...]


MBS/PBS/over-the-counter reviews as Opposition calls for focus on Choosing Wisely, Medical Homes

Health Minister Sussan Ley has confirmed the Federal Government is looking at removing subsidies from over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol, aspirin, and antacids that can be bought without a prescription and allowing pharmacies to discount the patient co-payment as part of negotiations over the Community Pharmacy Agreement. See her weekend announcement of the review of the [...]

MELISSA SWEET | April 26, 2015 | CO-PAYMENTS | |

Are co-payments dead? Or is that the sound of Medicare’s last gasps?

Dr Tim Woodruff, vice president of the Doctors Reform Society, writes: The GP co-payment is dead. So said the Prime Minister as he made his third retraction on the issue six weeks ago. However, co-payments are far from “dead, buried and cremated” – and analyses of recent policy announcements suggests we are heading ever faster [...]

MELISSA SWEET | April 26, 2015 | #150COMMUNITIES | |

A MayDay call to action for health professionals: sign this letter and stand up for #SOSBlakAustralia

(This post was updated on April 28). This Friday (May 1), rallies will be held around Australia and in other countries to protest against the forced closure of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. In the open letter published below, Dr Melissa Stoneham of the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia and colleagues urge health organisations and [...]

MELISSA SWEET | April 24, 2015 | #JUSTJUSTICE | |

Please join a #Periscope chat today about #JustJustice, public health, journalism, and more…

A new live-streaming app, Periscope (owned by Twitter), has had some bad press because of the trolling that is already occurring (see, for example, this article by journalist and academic Jenna Price, and this one by television presenter Jo Stanley). However, Periscope also has potentially interesting and useful applications for public health and journalism, amongst other [...]


A new Centre of Research Excellence on Policy and Health Equity

Photo by Janette Gay

Today the Hon Julia Gillard will launch a new Centre of Research Excellence on Policy and Health Equity. In this article Fran Baum and Sharon Friel introduce us to the work and goals of the new Centre. 

Fran Baum and Sharon Friel write:

Many Australians will live shorter lives than others, not because of their genetics or the lifestyle choices they make, but rather because of the conditions in which they live and the opportunities they have to lead a healthy life. Peoples’ wellbeing, poor health and early death is affected by three core things: basic material requisites for a decent life, control over our lives, and voice and participation in the policy decisions that affect the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work, and age.

Employment, housing, social exclusion, education, income and wealth all combine to shape our health. Policies in each of these areas have a powerful impact on how long we live and how healthy we are. Differences in opportunities mean that Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people die on average around 11 years earlier than other Australians (AIHW, 2015) and low income people lose about 6 years of life compared to better off Australians (Leigh, 2013).

Today a new NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence is being launched by former Prime Minister the Hon Julia Gillard that is devoted to studying how government policies shape how healthy we are, how long we live and how this differs depending on who we are. The Centre, which is funded for 5 years, will have a special focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.  The Centre will research what factors influence how policies are devised and implemented in ways that do or not incorporate health equity. It will also develop new methods of assessing the impact of policies on health and health equity.

KELLIE BISSET | April 23, 2015 | HEALTH REFORM | |

The Health Wrap: the vexed issues of antivaxxers, Medicare musings, weighty issues, meeting mental health needs, and measuring poverty

                It’s with pleasure I introduce this week’s Health Wrap from my colleague Megan Howe, who recently joined the Sax Institute as Publications Manager. Megan knows more than a thing or two about health reporting – she has worked in the media for 25 years, most recently as [...]


Mental health reform, on a crystal platter, served hot

The National Mental Health Commission’s review of mental health services provides the blueprint to begin long overdue reform to mental health services now. Consumers, their families and health professionals are looking for action.  John Mendoza’s message to the Prime Minister?  The ball’s in your court. Seize the opportunity in front of you and make change now.

John Mendoza writes:

A week is a long time in politics, and a week has past since the leaking of the National Mental Health Commission’s four-volume 700-page review of mental health services in Australia.

The Commission cleverly packaged the report so that Volume 1 included an action agenda that can be implemented immediately.  Not as part of the 2016 budget, not after the next election due in late 2016, but now.

And action has never been more necessary.


Professor Allan Fels: Meaningful mental health reform can happen right now, together

Last week the ABC published leaked sections the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services which was undertaken by the National Mental Health Commission and completed last year.  Two days after the initial leaks Croakey was first to release the full report to the public. While the review has now been released, Health Minister Sussan Ley has suggested that the government are still considering some recommendations and has announced an Expert Reference Group and a range of advisory committees.  

In this post Professor Allan Fels, Chair of the National Mental Health Commission shares his thoughts on why now is the time for action and warns of the potential barriers that must not be allowed to hijack the process.

Professor Fels writes:

Now that the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services that the National Mental Health Commission provided to the Australian Government has been made public, we must overcome two potential barriers to meaningful reform that have thwarted the best efforts of others in the past.

The first is barrier would be to lose sight of the fact that this is about people with lived experiences of mental illness and their families and carers. Yes, it is about ‘the system’, but it is about a system being reoriented to focus on the need of individuals, families and communities, rather than supply as determined by funders and providers. Certainly it’s not about debating the merits of one service provider over another and it’s not about robbing Peter to pay Paul.


A list of five things to change the conversation about low value health care

In this fourth article in our Choosing Wisely series, Dr Lynn Weekes  AM, CEO of NPS MedicineWise looks at how lists of five things can really change the conversation about low value health care and waste when the right people are part of the conversation.  Given the organisations involved, this initiative will have much to [...]


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