Decision Maker

Greg Hunt MP

  • Minister for Health and Sport

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Petitioning Greg Hunt MP, Scott Morrison

We need government rebates for the new FreeStyle Libre Glucose Monitor

The New Abbott FreeStyle Libre, (and similar) is a game changer for people with diabetes. This device will save the lives of people with diabetes as well as their sight and limbs. Not to mention the millions (or billions) of dollars it will save in future hospital bills, social services and the social cost of having people with diabetes going blind and losing their limbs. However, the device currently costs the user about $50 per week ($2600 per year). The Abbott FreeStyle Libre is not currently subsidised by the Australian Government, and this means that it is not affordable to thousands of Australians who could benefit from the device. The Abbott FreeStyle libre continually monitors the Blood Glucose Levels of people with diabetes. Helping them better manage their diabetes and prevent some of the horrible effects of this condition. Please sign this petition and help get this device and any other similar device more affordable for people with diabetes. Diabetes is not a lifestyle choice; people with diabetes don’t choose diabetes. Its handed to us on a platter and we need to deal with it the best we can. This device (and similar) will help us do that. So if you are only going to sign one petition today, please pick this one as it could help save a life. I have no affiliation with the "Abbott" company and this petition is not a promotion for them or their products. I am a person with type 1 diabetes who wants this device available for all Australians no matter what their income. This petition is supported by Diabetes Australia  

Christopher Slingsby-Smith
192,649 supporters
Victory
Petitioning Brad Hazzard, Gladys Berejiklian, Malcolm Turnbull, Greg Hunt MP

Health Minister: our baby girl is dying in front of us - please help

I don’t want to break the law, but I don’t want to bury my eight-year-old child. I am left with no options - my 8 year old daughter Sienna suffers up to 100 epileptic seizures per day, each one life-threatening. I’m writing this out of desperation. Last night I spent the evening watching my little girl gasping for air, unable to breath, another night of thinking I was about to lose her. We’ve been through 5 specialist doctors unable to help her. Right now she’s on 8 different medications and still experiencing over 100 seizures per day. I’m beside myself. Doctors say they’ve tried everything - the only option left is medicinal cannabis or her the seizures will continue to cause irreparable damage to her brain and organs. But despite it being legalised last year, red tape is leaving Sienna’s doctors unable to fast track her lifesaving access to medicinal cannabis. She’s left with the only option of joining a long list of kids waiting to get onto clinical trials. I have had to watch her cognitive ability decline, going from an IQ of 90-100 to a range from 41-52. She has been diagnosed with a severe intellectual disability. Now every seizure is a step closer to death. Right now we are being forced to sit back and watch our baby girl dying in front of us and not a single doctor in NSW can help us. This is cruel and devastating. We need immediate amnesty to give our little girl a quality of life and a long lasting life. She has dreams too, please help her live to follow them. The Health Minister can’t ignore a dying 8 year old - if he delays access much longer, Sienna will die. Please sign and share to help Sienna. It’s our only hope.  

Yvonne Cooper
122,908 supporters
Victory
Petitioning Greg Hunt MP

Endometriosis is REAL!

  Endometriosis is a disease which effects 1 in 10 women, approximately 176 million. Its as common as Diabetes yet our government & health care "professionals" across the globe struggle to recognise it as a genuine illness. It is often referred to as a "silent epidemic". It is something I am passionate about because it is something I live with. I was diagnosed 2 years ago and it is something that will effect me until the day I die. Endo effects mainly the uterus and the surrounding organs including but not limited to; bowels, stomach, bladder, fallopian tubes and even the lungs. It causes chronic pain, extreme fatigue, chronic nausea (it's literally morning sickness without the baby), muscle & joint pain, painful periods, severe bloating, infertility + more. It was described to me as "it's like having rusty insides & as time goes on the rust builds and builds and the less functioning the organs become, until eventually they are useless". It is surgery every 6-12 months, being told you'll never have children at the age of 19 & morning painkillers just to get through the day. It is torture and it is real. These symptoms persist every single day of our lives, it is our "normal". So I am calling on the Australian Government to have this disease recognised just like diabetes or asthma which are both equally as common & put an end to us jumping through hoops for a diagnosis. Provide more support to those of us who are torturing ourselves everyday by pushing through the pain. Please provide more funding to find a preventive treatment/cure. We need your help. We need funding & education so that we get the support and medical care that we deserve. At the moment Australian women are being denied financial support, expected to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for surgeries (that are only temporary may I add) and pay for expensive hormone treatments that may not even work. It is also not uncommon to go through 6-7 specialists before being taken seriously which is extremely disheartening. I think I speak for every sufferer when I say we are tired of being laughed out of doctors offices being told "it's all in your mind".   Please sign this petition and help me get this recognised for what it is. Thank you xx 

Karlie Wilkinson
111,137 supporters
Petitioning Gladys Berejiklian

Bring Chase Walker-Steven Home To His Family

  Dear All Addressed, We the people require your urgent assistance. Chase Walker Steven is a 4yr old boy that was abducted from his loving family on Friday the 19th Of May 2017. There are some basic facts here among other things that are of concern to ‘we the people’ Chase has now been without the only love and quality of life that he has for 24 days. Chase is nonverbal and unable to communicate with anyone except his loving family and community therefore we the people believe that Chase’s basic fundamental human right’s and not being addressed here. Chase went up to 50 days seizure free on a plant based diet and in the loving care of his parents. Chase is now being force fed synthetic food and medicine against his parents wishes. When chase was previously being fed the same synthetic food and medicine he was having 100+ seizures a day and his parents Cini Walker and Marc Alexander Steven were told to prepare their sons funeral... We are requesting your assistance to #bringchasehome immediately… In truth and loveWe the people ................................................................................................................... Summary:  Chase Walker-Steven is a 4 year old boy who suffers from a severe case of Spastic Quadraplegic Cerebal Palsy and Epilepsy after having a reaction to vaccinations within hours of his birth.  On the eve of May 19 2017 up to 30 police officers and 2 FACS workers descended on the Church Of Ubuntu where the family was seeking refuge after going through an ordeal in Queensland to which Lady Cliento Hospital tried to kidnap him also, to remove Chase Walker-Steven from the care of his parents over test results from May 1 2017 which showed Chase had low potassium levels. Cini and Marc, Chase's parents are PRO CHOICE. They decided to stop immunising Chase at 2 years old because of the reactions he was having to them.    THIS IS NOT A WAR ABOUT VACCINES!  Chase had been at an appointment the day before and results showed Chase's potassium levels were fine. Chase's parents Marc Steven and Cini Walker had been feeding Chase a plant based diet along with cannabis oil to which he was thriving on and was healthy as agreed to by doctors at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle that very night. After a lengthy negotiation Chase's parents agreed to accompany him to the hospital for observation and tests. During this time police and FACS workers were plotting on how to get Chase away from his parents long enough so they could medically kidnap this little boy under the direction of the Director General.Upon arrival at John Hunter Hospital Marc, Cini and Chase were placed in a psychiatric hold room in the Emergency Department of the hospital. Tests were done and doctors advised all involved that Chase was in no danger and his test results were fine so he could leave the the hospital and go home. This was never going to happen. Police and FACS had already decided that Chase was going into the care of the state no matter what the outcome. FACS advised Cini and Marc he would not be going home with them and would be taken into their custody. Shortly after Marc Steven went to use the bathroom and was barricaded in by 4 police officers and his screams were described as being that of someone caught in a house fire. Cini was then dragged and pulled from Chase's wheelchair but she clung on wrapping her arms and legs around the chair. She begged police and FACS workers to let her go with her son to wherever they were taking him and was finally told she could so she let go. They LIED!! Cini was then wrestled to the ground and handcuffed. Physically assaulted in front of her 4 year old disabled son. Imagine what was going through that little boys mind whilst these people were keeping his parents from him on ZERO grounds. Hearing his parents screaming and crying because he was being taken from them. Imagine the confusion and anxiety that Chase would've been feeling at that moment and every moment since. Cini was then removed from the hospital. Supporters who were outside ran to help after hearing her screams and were pepper sprayed by police as was Cini. She was then conveyed to the police station and released without charged. CINI AND MARC DO NOT KNOW WHERE THEIR CHILD IS!! CINI AND MARC DO NOT KNOW IF HE IS BEING CARED FOR PROPERLY!! CINI AND MARC NOW NEED TO FIGHT THE STATE TO HAVE THEIR SON RETURNED TO THEM!! CINI AND MARC ARE FIGHTING IN 2 STATES TO KEEP THEIR SON!! Chase is allergic to the synthetic medicines and foods that hospitals administer and as a result could DIE!! Which is why his parents decided to change his diet after doing extensive research on alternate forms of medicine. That little boy was happy and as healthy as any little boy with his condition would be. He is loved and adored by his family and support network and needs to be returned to his parents. He is non-verbal, he can't communicate. He'd be scared as he would be wondering where his Mummy and Daddy are and why he can't see or hear them. His sisters Nevaeh and Summer miss him dearly. This is such an injustice. Police and FACS are the only ones who committed a crime that night by removing a healthy happy boy from his loving family. Chase needs to be returned home to his family. Immediately. There's no other outcome that would satisfy. #IStandWithChase#ChasingHope#BringChaseHome At the bottom of this petition is a link to support the family financially whilst they go through this harrowing ordeal being separated from their son.  **PLEASE SHARE** **PLEASE SIGN** This baby boy was underhandedly taken from a loving home where he was thriving to be placed alone with strangers and no way to communicate. He needs our help to be reunited with this parents Cini and Marc and his 2 sisters.  #legalisecannabisoil #keepchaseseizurefree #istandwithchase gofundme.com/chasing-hope 

Susan Brown
104,639 supporters
Victory
Petitioning Bupa

BUPA: Reverse your new rip-off policy changes exploiting vulnerable patients

I’m an emergency department doctor and after BUPA’s new policy changes I am terrified for my patients. BUPA, one of Australia’s largest and most popular health insurance companies is trying to quietly rip off consumers while they cut cover for so many people, including pregnant women.One of my patients sat at my desk and wept as she realised that her health insurance was no longer going to cover costs for important procedures -- BUPA has ripped the rug out from under consumers all for more profit even though they made over AUD $1.43 Billion in 2017!BUPA wants to “American-ise” our Australian health care by raising costs for patients and reducing cover for important procedures. Under the new policies, patients will be forced to go to health care providers that BUPA chooses if they want the same rebate, taking the choice away from consumers.We have to take a stand and stop ‘big insurance’ companies such as BUPA doing this. Otherwise, there's a good chance other insurance companies will follow suit. Help the vulnerable in financial jeopardy from these junk policies. Please sign the petition asking BUPA to reverse these new exploitative policies -- and to stop big insurance companies hitting the most vulnerable patients. Patients over profit.

Jason .
87,384 supporters
Petitioning Greg Hunt MP

Endometriosis is a Public Health Issue! - We want to be on the PBS!

Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women in Australia. There is currently no cure and diagnosis of the disease varies anywhere between 7 -10 years. Girls as young as 8 are experiencing chronic pain associated with this disease. 68% of sufferers are incorrectly diagnosed with another condition, as 50% of GP's are unfamiliar with the three main symptoms (Endostats 2018). The only way to diagnose the illness is through laparoscopic surgery (pictured above), which is currently ranked as an elective, exploratory surgery, meaning you either pay thousands of dollars for surgery through the private system (even with private health insurance), or you wait years to have surgery through the public system. Endometriosis can affect various systems throughout women's bodies, including Urinary, Reproductive, Digestive and Thoracic. This debilitating disease can take away the ability to have a child, work, be physically active, escape pain, commit to education and affects intimacy. There is currently no cure for endometriosis. Sufferers are treated with various hormone medications that are not currently listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Visanne, is a common medication used for the treatment of endometriosis symptoms and is currently priced at around $85 per month. As there is no cure for this disease, patients do not have a 'finish line' to stop purchasing this medication. As many sufferers are unable to sustain employment, the medicinal costs are somewhat impossible to maintain. This cost is on top of surgery costs, extensive physiotherapy, constant blood tests and specialist appointments I am calling upon the Australian Government Department of Health to list Endometriosis medication on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and treat endometriosis like the public health issue that it truly is. 

Rachael Glin
81,553 supporters
Victory
Petitioning Greg Hunt MP, Bill Shorten, Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull, Catherine King, Julie Bishop, Tanya Plibersek, Janet Rice

Axe The TamponTax #BloodyOutrage

There’s no womb in society for a tampon tax. Did you know there is a GST on Tampons AND they are called a ‘luxury’?  I don’t know about you, but they don’t seem like a luxury to me. Condoms, lubricant, incontinence pads or sunscreen on the other hand are GST free. What’s with that?  It’s a bloody outrage. Putting a tax on products women need as a direct consequence of their biology is fundamentally sexist.It’s a stain on our national image. Half the population of Australia -- approximately 10 million women -- will pay tax on these products for the greater part of their lifetime. Costing us about $1000 for buying an essential health product. The Tampon Tax is ridiculous. Period. Luckily, women of childbearing age - those of us who need tampons - will be key voters in the upcoming election. So they'll need to listen if they want to woo us for our votes!It’s a bleeding disgrace. As Australians, as voters, as women, we request that the Federal Government the Opposition end this inherently sexist and unfair unfair tax. This tax is really cramping my style. Tampons belong on the GST free health products list - they're not a luxury. They're a necessity. Can you help me out by sharing the petition on Twitter and Facebook -- with all your friends and everyone else? Let's pull the plug on the Tampon Tax! #BloodyOutrage

Sophie Liley
74,463 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten, Dr Michael Gannon, Greg Hunt MP

May 1st Changes to Pap Smears

  As of May 1st the following changes will be implemented to women's Pap Smears: "-women will be invited when they are due to participate via the National Cancer Screening Register-the time between tests will change from two to five years-the age at which screening starts will increase from 18 years to 25 years-women aged 70 to 74 years will be invited to have an exit test. The new program will commence from 1 May 2017 when the new Cervical Screening Test will become available on the Medicare Benefits Schedule. Until this time, women aged between 18 and 69 years who have ever been sexually active, should continue to have Pap test when due." The government run website states that: "Based on new evidence and better technology, the National Cervical Screening Program will change from 1 May 2017 to improve early detection and save more lives." Prior to May 1 the website advises: "It is very important that women continue to participate in the current two yearly Pap test program to ensure they are not at risk of developing cervical cancer. Pap tests have already halved the incidence and mortality from cervical cancer since the introduction of the National Cervical Screening Program in 1991. Women will be due for the first Cervical Screening Test two years after their last Pap test."   "The new Cervical Screening Test detects human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which is the first step in developing cervical cancer. The procedure for collecting the sample for HPV testing is the same as the procedure for having a Pap smear. A Health Care Professional will still take a small sample of cells from the woman’s cervix. The sample will be sent to a pathology laboratory for examination. While the current Pap test can detect abnormal cell changes, the new Cervical Screening Test will detect the HPV infection that can cause the abnormal cell changes, prior to the development of cancer. Persistent HPV infections can cause abnormal cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer. However, this usually takes a long time, often more than 10 years."   Some of the reasoning behind the changes are: " -cervical cancer in young women is rare (in both HPV vaccinated and unvaccinated women)-despite screening women younger than 25 years of age for over 20 years there has been no change to the rates of cervical cancer or rates of death from cervical cancer in this age group-investigating and treating common cervical abnormalities in young women that would usually resolve by themselves can increase the risk of pregnancy complications later in life-the HPV vaccination has already been shown to reduce cervical abnormalities among women younger than 25 years of age and, in contrast to screening, is ultimately expected to reduce cervical cancer in this age group." Please see petition updates and responses. Dr Michael Gannon has responded to the petition.    

Isabella Rossi
71,556 supporters
Petitioning Theresa May MP

No More Plastic Straws in McDonalds

Plastic pollution is a growing problem in the world. By 2050 it is estimated that, by weight, there is going to be more plastic than fish in the world. And, in recent years it has also started to make its way into the food-chain. Whales are known to have eaten plastic bags, so too have Sea Turtles. Whilst, fish have succumbed to eating polyethyelene microplastics. However, in recent years a new problem has come to the attention of the public: Plastic Straws. They are known to have caused the drowning of turtles  as they get stuck in their nostrils. This is needless and inhumane. Especially when an easy alternative is already readily available worldwide. Paper straws do exactly the same, except when they have been used they biodegrade. McDonalds, one of the largest Transnational Corporations in every country is one of the front-runners in their production of plastic straws, if they can stop, why can't many others follow their lead?! When we, as a nation, signed up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals we pledged to help life under water- this could be one of the biggest steps in helping us achieve this. Please sign...#PlasticStrawsSuck 

Sam Street
64,197 supporters
Petitioning Greg Hunt MP

Ban Primate Experiments!

Australia continues to allow non-human primates to be placed in inappropriate environments and subjected to laboratory experiments that not only cause immense suffering, but can also be dangerously misleading for human medical progress because of the significant biological differences between humans and non-human primates.   Your petitioners therefore request an immediate ban on the use of all non-human primates in medical and scientific research in Australia.

Humane Research Australia
53,007 supporters
Australia Recognise Endometriosis As A Disability

Time for action on endometriosis The Turnbull Government will create the first National Action Plan for Endometriosis, providing much needed support for women who face this often misunderstood medical condition. The Plan will seek to improve the treatment, understanding and awareness of endometriosis, which affects around one in ten Australian women. It will be developed in collaboration with the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis, and members of the Parliamentary Friends for Endometriosis Awareness. The Plan will focus on how to improve the lives of women who face this terrible condition. Diagnosis of the condition currently takes on average around eight to nine years, placing a significant toll on individuals, families and the community. This condition should have been better acknowledged and acted upon long ago but today we are taking action so the struggle that women face will no longer be silent or their battles private. We will work with the medical community and key stakeholders to look into what gaps might be present in training, support and care. Importantly medical research will be critical to uncovering new options for diagnosis, treatment, care and understanding of endometriosis. We will therefore issue a targeted call for endometriosis research under the Medical Research Future Fund. The Turnbull Government will also provide funding of $160,000, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, for Professor Grant Montgomery to use genomics to investigate better treatments for women with endometriosis. The Jean Hailes Foundation, supported by Turnbull Government funding, will also make endometriosis a key feature of next year’s Women’s Health Week, to raise awareness of the condition. All participants of the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis should be congratulated for the advocacy and voice they give to the thousands of women who suffer from endometriosis. We look forward to developing this new national approach with all involved in the battle against endometriosis.

10 months ago
Delayed diagnosis left me menopausal at 21 - urgent help needed

Time for action on endometriosis The Turnbull Government will create the first National Action Plan for Endometriosis, providing much needed support for women who face this often misunderstood medical condition. The Plan will seek to improve the treatment, understanding and awareness of endometriosis, which affects around one in ten Australian women. It will be developed in collaboration with the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis, and members of the Parliamentary Friends for Endometriosis Awareness. The Plan will focus on how to improve the lives of women who face this terrible condition. Diagnosis of the condition currently takes on average around eight to nine years, placing a significant toll on individuals, families and the community. This condition should have been better acknowledged and acted upon long ago but today we are taking action so the struggle that women face will no longer be silent or their battles private. We will work with the medical community and key stakeholders to look into what gaps might be present in training, support and care. Importantly medical research will be critical to uncovering new options for diagnosis, treatment, care and understanding of endometriosis. We will therefore issue a targeted call for endometriosis research under the Medical Research Future Fund. The Turnbull Government will also provide funding of $160,000, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, for Professor Grant Montgomery to use genomics to investigate better treatments for women with endometriosis. The Jean Hailes Foundation, supported by Turnbull Government funding, will also make endometriosis a key feature of next year’s Women’s Health Week, to raise awareness of the condition. All participants of the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis should be congratulated for the advocacy and voice they give to the thousands of women who suffer from endometriosis. We look forward to developing this new national approach with all involved in the battle against endometriosis.

10 months ago
Endometriosis is REAL!

Time for action on endometriosis The Turnbull Government will create the first National Action Plan for Endometriosis, providing much needed support for women who face this often misunderstood medical condition. The Plan will seek to improve the treatment, understanding and awareness of endometriosis, which affects around one in ten Australian women. It will be developed in collaboration with the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis, and members of the Parliamentary Friends for Endometriosis Awareness. The Plan will focus on how to improve the lives of women who face this terrible condition. Diagnosis of the condition currently takes on average around eight to nine years, placing a significant toll on individuals, families and the community. This condition should have been better acknowledged and acted upon long ago but today we are taking action so the struggle that women face will no longer be silent or their battles private. We will work with the medical community and key stakeholders to look into what gaps might be present in training, support and care. Importantly medical research will be critical to uncovering new options for diagnosis, treatment, care and understanding of endometriosis. We will therefore issue a targeted call for endometriosis research under the Medical Research Future Fund. The Turnbull Government will also provide funding of $160,000, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, for Professor Grant Montgomery to use genomics to investigate better treatments for women with endometriosis. The Jean Hailes Foundation, supported by Turnbull Government funding, will also make endometriosis a key feature of next year’s Women’s Health Week, to raise awareness of the condition. All participants of the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis should be congratulated for the advocacy and voice they give to the thousands of women who suffer from endometriosis. We look forward to developing this new national approach with all involved in the battle against endometriosis.

10 months ago
PBAC RELIST B12 AND NEO B12 INJECTIONS BACK ON THE PBS FOR ALL MEDICAL PURPOSES!

Vitamin B12 injections were removed from general availability on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 January 2016, following a recommendation from the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). The removal of these OTC medicines from PBS general availability is supporting the ongoing integrity and sustainability of the PBS, and is allowing the government to list essential and life-saving medicines which carry a higher cost to consumers such as Kalydeco® for cystic fibrosis. Kalydeco® is being listed on the PBS for 2 – 5 years olds from 1 May 2017. Without government subsidy this treatment would cost each patient around $300,000 per year. When purchased without a prescription, the cost for the same PBS quantity (box of 3) of Vitamin B12 injections should be very similar to the PBS concessional co-payment of $6.30. However, pharmacies are private businesses so the price may vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. Should you have concerns about the cost of your medicine, we recommend discussing this with your doctor, or compare prices at different pharmacies.

2 years ago
May 1st Changes to Pap Smears

Dear Isabella and petitioners, Thanks for the opportunity to respond to the petition.   Women’s health and cancer testing is extremely important. That’s why it is so vital that people have accurate information.   I'm happy to clarify some of the information here - I think some confusion around what these changes mean has left women concerned, when medical professionals can assure you there's absolutely no need to be. What’s actually happening is that an old test is being replaced with a newer and far more effective test.   This was recommended by Australia’s leading medical experts. They’ve told us the new test is so much more effective that it could reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by up to 30%.   It also means that women only need to have a pap smear every five years instead of every two.   But don’t just take my word for it – here’s what the Australian Medical Association, the Chief Medical Officer and Professor Ian Frazer (the person who created the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer) had to say about the switch to the new test.   PROFESSOR IAN FRASER – Former Australian of the Year, developer of HPV vaccine against cervical cancer   The current cervical cancer screening program has served Australia well over many years, and has prevented many deaths from cervical cancer.  The new program builds on the success of the current program, but uses a newer and more rational approach to screening, by testing for persisting infection with the viruses that cause cervical cancer.   This program is better for the general public because it allows the same near 100% protection against cervical cancer for women who fully participate in the program, but with less frequent testing, as has been shown in clinical trials both internationally and in Australia.     The new program also has the advantage that it will be easier to run, as the old screening test was manual, and required considerable professional expertise and training, and the new screening test is automated, with reliable testing systems.    Also, the number of abnormal tests will fall in the future, as young women who have been protected from HPV and cervical cancer with the HPV vaccines enter the cervical cancer screening program.    Quality assurance is essential for screening tests and it will be easier to provide quality assurance for the new cervical cancer testing program that the old one in future, as quality assurance for the old program depended on finding an  expected number of abnormal screening tests, and this expected number will be so much lower in the future that the old quality assurance system will no longer be reliable..     Overall, the new program will be more convenient for women, and just as effective at preventing cervical cancer, on the available research evidence.   DR MICHAEL GANNON – President of the Australian Medical Association   It is time to sink some of the myths around changes to National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP). The well-intentioned change.org petition, which is hurtling past 50,000 signatures, is nonetheless woefully misinformed and misguided. The new guidelines are evidence-based, and a fabulous good news story for girls and women across Australia.   The new guidelines have been developed over many years by an eminent panel of Gynaecologists, Pathologists, Clinicians, and Scientists. They have been meticulously reviewed through the Medical Services Advisory Council (MSAC) process, and represent a further improvement to the Cervix Cancer screening program, which was already the world’s best.   The new NCSP reflects an increased understanding of the biology of Cervix Cancer. It reflects the changes in epidemiology that will accrue from having a population of young adults (boys and girls) who should nearly all be vaccinated against cancer producing HPV (wart virus) infection.   These changes will mean that millions of women can perfectly safely reduce the number of times they face the nuisance, expense, and discomfort of having Pap smears. Perhaps the only down side of the change is the health promotion opportunities that have accrued from women visiting their GP on a two-yearly basis.   Nonetheless, it will lead to thousands of women avoiding the anxiety of an abnormal Pap smear and an appointment for follow-up testing. In time, this will result in thousands of women avoiding the need for referral to a Gynaecologist for examination and Colposcopy.   Most importantly, it will mean that thousands of women will avoid surgery historically performed (in good faith) to reduce the risk of progression to severe pre-cancerous changes or Cervix Cancer.   The natural history of HPV infection is that, in many cases, especially in healthy, young non-smokers, the immune system will eliminate the virus without treatment. These women need not have surgery.   The old system was never particularly good in detecting Cervix Cancer in women under the age of 25. The progression from pre-cancerous change to invasive Cancer typically takes many years. The change from cytology (examining the cells under a microscope) to HPV testing is appropriate, with more than 99 per cent of cases of Cervix Cancer being caused by HPV infection.   The most important reason to reduce the number of women having this kind of surgery is to reduce short and medium term risks such as infection, haemorrhage, and cervical stenosis.   Most importantly, at a population level it will reduce the incidence of Cervical Incompetence and preterm birth.   Prematurity is the number one cause of death and disability in children less than five years old in the developed world.   In many women, preterm birth occurs secondary to a deficiency in the defence mechanism that a length of closed cervix provides. A reduction in the number of women having surgery on the uterine cervix will be expected to reduce the incidence of prematurity.   Prematurity is associated with increased risks of Cerebral Palsy, chronic lung disease, intellectual impairment, hearing impairment, blindness, learning difficulties, and behavioural problems.   The NCSP changes will thus save taxpayers millions of dollars, but they are not merely a cost-saving measure. This is a well thought out, evidence-based change to Gynaecological practice, which will be a bonanza for improvements in child health.   The existing Cervix Cancer screening program was never perfect in detecting non-HPV-related cancers. It is absolutely essential that, with the new NCSP guidelines, we remind women of the importance of presenting for asymptomatic screening.   It is also absolutely essential that all women are encouraged to report abnormal bleeding to their GP. Whether this bleeding occurs throughout the cycle or after intercourse, it must (as always) be interrogated. It will remain the case that women under the age of 25 with abnormal bleeding will merit Gynaecological investigation and care.   This is a good news story for not only the health of Australian women and girls, but that of their future children. The fact that it is likely to be cost-effective is an added bonus for the taxpayers who fund the success story that is Australia’s NCSP.   PROFESSOR BRENDAN MURPHY – Australia’s Chief Medical Officer   Cervical cancer is a largely preventable cancer and Australia has one of the lowest rates in the world

The Pap smear currently recommended for 18 to 69 year old women every 2 years is going to be replaced by a test for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Because this test is much more sensitive and detects the presence of the virus before it has causes any damage (which happens slowly over many years) it only needs to be done every five years for women from 25 to 74 years of age.

The Australian Government is making this change based on the latest international evidence on the prevention and early detection of cervical cancer. The evidence was reviewed by an independent, expert committee and the government accepted their recommendations without amendment. 

Until these changes come into effect women are advised to continue screening in accordance with their current schedule. Women of any age who have symptoms (including pain or bleeding) should see their doctor. There are other very rare forms of cervical cancer but unfortunately neither the current test or new test detect these. 

It is estimated that this new test will reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by up to 30%.

2 years ago