Joint Media Release with Country Liberals Candidate for Lingiari Jacinta Nampijinpa Price
The Coalition Government is again stepping up the fight against the syphilis outbreak affecting Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory and Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion, and CLP Candidate for Lingiari, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, said.
“In partnership with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, our Government has begun rolling out Phase 3 of its enhanced response to the outbreak,” Senator Scullion said.
Phase 3 extends the Test and Treat model to 11 new Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
“The response includes point of care test kits that enable immediate diagnosis and treatment of the disease, compared to a wait of up to two weeks for diagnosis using a traditional blood test.
“Syphilis is preventable and treatable, but without treatment is deadly. We are making progress against this outbreak but it is shocking that it was allowed to become so entrenched in some First Nations communities.”
Ms Price said the new phase will begin with training of staff and provision of kits at Mala’la Health Service in Maningrida, Western Arnhem Land, in the NT with funding of $770,000 until June 2021.
“Five ACCHS sites in the NT are already offering the Point of Care Test and Treat service with federal funding under the first two phases of the Government’s enhanced response,” Ms Price said.
“The other providers are Danila Dilba Health Service (Darwin), Sunrise Health Service (East Katherine), Katherine West Health Board, Wurli-Wurlinjang Aboriginal Health Service (Katherine Township) and Miwatj Aboriginal Health Service (East Arnhem), who are all funded until June 2021.
“More than 7,500 people have been tested for syphilis under Phases 1 and 2, and 186 local health professionals have been trained in use of the test kits and on sexual health in general.
Senator Scullion said Phase 3 was funded with the additional $12.4 million committed by the Government last December. It brings the Government’s total commitment to fighting the outbreak to $21.2 million over four years to mid-2021.
“The enhanced response to syphilis was developed in close consultation with state and territory governments, the ACCHS and other relevant stakeholders. It aligns with the national plan endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council,” Senator Scullion said.
“Phase 3 provides funding for extra staff where needed, staff training, test kits, medication, and culturally appropriate health, communication and education materials.”
Since the syphilis outbreak began in 2011, there have been more than 2,500 cases of infectious syphilis and 15 congenital syphilis cases in northern and central Australia.