CEO Primary Matters – 27 January 2022

Happy new year and welcome back to the first editions of Westvic News and Primary Matters for 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic has generated new challenges for primary care in recent weeks and while this year did not begin the way we may have anticipated, it often brings out the best in our will to support each other and the community. I hope you all enjoyed some time with  family or friends over the festive season and had the opportunity to rest and reset for the year ahead.

Boosting our immunity

Last week, the State Government announced a reduced timeframe of three months between second and booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for all Victorians aged 18 years and older. This means many more people across western Victoria are now eligible for a third dose to boost their immunity.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all primary healthcare providers and health services for their continued work in vaccinating our community and keeping our region safe.

WVPHN is continuing our weekly COVID-19 Update e-newsletter into 2022. I encourage you to subscribe to keep up to date with the latest changes and COVID-19-related news. Subscribe here

A reminder that we also have our Project ECHO COVID-19  commencing this Thursday 27 January. ECHO session times will be announced shortly. They are open to all primary care clinicians in the WVPHN catchment region. Find out more information and register here

A focus on sustainability

Climate change is the greatest global health threat facing the world (Lancet, 2021) and the western Victoria region has already felt the impacts of climate change in recent years through drought, bushfires and thunderstorm asthma.  In 2019-2020, climate-related bushfires in Australia resulted in 417 deaths, 3,151 hospitalisations and caused tens of thousands more health conditions (Jalaludin et al, 2020).

The current pandemic has been an urgent threat that has taken time and energy from business-as-usual as well as the climate crisis. The pandemic has also resulted in mounting single-use items such as masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE). While most PPE can be recycled, practices would need to invest in the specialised processes.

In response to climate change, many medical and climate related advocacy groups have been established, and both the Royal Australian Collage of General Practitioners  and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians  have developed position statements.

We all need to reduce our carbon footprints and develop plans to achieve carbon neutral businesses.  Doing this will form a community of health practitioners, resources and initiatives that our younger generations will be proud of.

Over the coming year, WVPHN  will define our own road map that aims to result in decades-long benefit for general practices and the broader community.  If there is any feedback, or ideas, we would like to hear from you.

World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day is held annually on 4 February and is a day dedicated to empowering individuals and communities worldwide to show support and create awareness of cancer.

The theme of World Cancer Day 2022 is Close the Care Gap and focuses on raising awareness of the equity gap that affects many individuals and communities and costs the lives of those impacted by cancer.

WVPHN is doing some important work in this space, and we look forward to sharing these projects with you soon.

Janelle Jakowenko

Acting Chief Executive Officer


Interesting reads on climate change and health:

Lowitja Institute, 2021, Climate change and Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander People; a discussion paper, link here, viewed 22 November 2021

Ducket S, Mackey W, Stobart A, 2020, Climate change and health; preparing for the next disaster, Grattan Institute, link here, viewed 22 November 2021.

Position statements:

RACGP, 2019, Climate change and human health; Position statement, published June 2019, viewed 20 October 2021.

RACP, 2016, Climate change and health; Position statement, published November 2016, viewed 4 October 2021.

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