Protecting our health

Approximately $246.2 million in new funding will be provided to increase Australians’ medical protection against preventable diseases.

Page last updated: 08 May 2007

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8 May 2007
ABB 54/07

Approximately $246.2 million in new funding will be provided to increase Australians’ medical protection against preventable diseases.

New vaccines against common and dangerous diseases which have recently become available will be provided free through the National Immunisation Program. These include vaccines for rotavirus and human papillomavirus (which causes cervical cancer).

Other measures will reduce Australians’ vulnerability to threats from Q fever, mosquito-borne diseases and poisonous insect and animal bites.

National Immunisation Program – implementation of the National Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Program

Cervical cancer has dropped from eighth to 18th as the most common cause of death by cancer for Australian women, largely as a result of the successful Pap smear screening program. It remains, however, a deadly disease.

Many cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which has a number of strains. The vaccine, which was developed in Australia, provides strong protection against two strains of the common HPV, which cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

The Commonwealth Government has committed a total of $579.3 million from 2006-07 to 2010-11 for the HPV vaccination program. This consists of $475.9 million over five years for vaccine costs, as well as a further $103.5 million over five years for program implementation costs.

A catch-up group of 13 to 18 year old females will be offered the vaccine in a largely school-based program conducted over 2007 and 2008. A further catch-up group of females aged from 18 to 26 years of age will be offered the vaccine in a community-based program delivered mainly through general practice over two years from July 2007 to June 2009.

Girls from age 12, who are still at school will be vaccinated at school, while other women in the eligible age range will be able to obtain vaccination through GPs and community vaccination clinics.

National Immunisation Program – rotavirus vaccine

The Budget includes funding to include rotavirus vaccine on the National Immunisation Program at a cost of $124.4 million over five years.

Rotavirus gastroenteritis most often affects young children. It causes severe diarrhoea and is responsible for hospitalisation of around 10,000 Australian children every year. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children tend to be more seriously affected by the disease.

All babies born on or after 1 May 2007 will be eligible for the free vaccine, to be given with other vaccines at around two, four and six months of age.

National Immunisation Program – Q fever vaccine

Q fever is primarily an occupational disease of workers from the meat and livestock industries. Other populations at risk of infection include sheep, dairy and cattle livestock farmers, dairy workers, veterinarians, pelt and hide tanners, shearers and some people living in rural areas.

The Government will provide a total of $16.6 million over five years to ensure an ongoing supply of Q fever vaccine and screening tests are available to the Australian public.

Mosquito control operations in Northern Australia

Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever represent a serious health risk to Australia. Mosquito control measures are traditionally a state and territory responsibility. With increased mosquito incursions in northern Australia, however, the Commonwealth Government is providing assistance to ensure these mosquitoes are eliminated before they become established in mainland Australia.

This Budget commits $2.1 million over three years for mosquito control operations in the Torres Strait to be undertaken by the Queensland Government, and a further $0.6 million over two years for mosquito control operations on Groote Eylandt to be undertaken by the Northern Territory Government.

Antivenom production in Australia – continued manufacturing

The Commonwealth Government is responsible for maintaining the national capacity for production of antivenom to treat venomous bites and stings peculiar to Australia, many of which are life-threatening.

Currently, the Government has a four-year agreement with CSL for the manufacture of antivenom products. The Government has committed $15.1 million ($1.7 million in new funding) over the next four years to continue the agreement to June 2011.

Media contact: Claire Kimball 0413 486 926

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