NEPEAN Liberal candidate Russell Joseph wants the state government to “drop the politics” and work with the federal government on research to eradicate the Buruli ulcer.
Cases of the devastating condition, described by a sufferer as “rampant” on the Mornington Peninsula, rose from 47 in 2014 to 159 so far this year.
Last week, Tyabb girl Ella Crofts, 13, recalled her excruciating experience after being diagnosed with the ulcer in her knee in April – and called on the federal government to fund research into the debilitating condition. (“Funds flow for ulcer study” The News 26/9/17).
The article mistakenly reported that Flinders MP and Health Minister Greg Hunt had promised $2.4 million for research into the Buruli ulcer following Ella’s campaign for more money.
It has now been revealed that the money has been spent on research since 2000 – the equivalent of $141,000 a year – and no “new” money has been promised, although Mr Hunt reportedly met with Ella and her family as a gesture of support.
Mr Hunt agreed extra research was needed and the government would take a “sympathetic” look at any proposals.
“I’ve asked the chief medical officer for the Australian government and the head of the national Health and Medical Research Council to work with Victoria on additional research priorities and support,” he told The News.
Now, Mr Joseph is pushing the state government to pay for an education and eradication program to rid Victoria of the devastating ulcer “once and for all”.
“This matter has been raised over the past two years with the Victorian Health Minister [Jill Hennessy] as she has the primary responsibility for public health action, and to undertake ongoing and active surveillance and reporting of this disease,” he said.
“The core issue on the peninsula has been misdiagnosis and the subsequent lack of early intervention for those who first present with symptoms.”
He said an education program among all health care professionals and community organisations on the peninsula was “urgently needed as a first step”.
“Our community has had enough of the blame shifting and petty politics, it is time for Labor to simply step up and deal with this disease once and for all,” Mr Joseph, who manages the electorate office of Nepean MP Martin Dixon, said.
Ms Hennessy wrote to Mr Dixon in April to say that a “further $50,000 had been allocated to develop educational materials for medical practitioners to improve diagnosis and management” of the ulcer.
She said the education would be provided through the Primary Health Network which plays a “critical role” in providing information and training for GPs.
She said she hoped the new program would have a “meaningful impact in preventing unnecessary delays in diagnosis and improve early access to treatment”.
Mr Joseph: “Unless the minister acts quickly and works with Mr Hunt then the incidence of this ghastly disease will continue to escalate.”