- Written by John Niven
John and Helen Niven recount the incredible story of taking dental care to the remote villagers of Nepal.
Our dental volunteer trips to Nepal were initiated by my meeting Ang Tshering Sherpa in May 2011 whilst on a trip through Tibet with World Expeditions. He was the chairman of the committee that ran the Kushudebu Public Health Mission Nepal at Junbesi, a remote village on the original route to Mount Everest.
While the clinic was able to cover many medical problems the nearest dental service was five hours walk away. After many conversations and emails with Ang I decided to come to KPHMN and attempt to set up a basic dental facility.
In April 2012 Helen and I arrived in Kathmandu with many kilograms of portable dental equipment and supplies. We were met by Ang’s brother Ang Nigma who was our guide for our visit to Nepal. A visit to a local dental supply house to collect further supplies, followed by an interview with the Nepal Medical Board to obtain my dental registration, saw us ready to set out to Junbesi.
I had managed to put together a simple transportable dental surgery, consisting of a portable dental unit, a suction unit I found in Kathmandu, and a suitable quantity of instruments and supplies provided by generous dentists and dental supply houses in Australia.
- Written by Andrew Binns
Medicine graduates from the University of Wollongong’s Byron/Ballina hub celebrated at their Graduation Ball on 29 November 2014. Their local clinical placements were coordinated by the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast (UCRH).
The clinics where they undertook their supervised placements are shown in brackets.
Left to right:
- Dr Andrew Binns (GP)
- Alexandra Henry (North Coast Medical Centre)
- Michelle Durst (Prema House Family Medical)
- Ingrid Elvy (Holdsworth House Medical Practice)
- Dr Jane Barker (Regional Academic Leader, University of Wollongong/UCRH)
- David Glendinning (Goonellabah Medical Centre)
- Corinne Watson (Holdsworth House Medical Practice)
- Gabrielle Legendre (Lennox Head Medical Practice)
- Flora Zigterman (Placement Facilitator, University of Wollongong/UCRH)
- Ben Armstrong (Bullinah AMS)
- Haddi Hughes (Bangalow Medical Centre).
The students spent 12 months in the Northern Rivers, with two days a week at a local General Practice and the rest of their time at local hospitals and the teaching program at UCRH.
Three of the graduate doctors have returned to the region for their internship - Alexandra Henry and David Glendinning at Lismore Base Hospital, and Corinne Watson at The Tweed Hospital.
- Written by David Guest
Since its inception eight years ago, the Better Access to Mental Health Care program has significantly improved the management of mental health problems. While the program allows for the treatment of a broad range of mental health disorders, the great majority of issues managed by general practitioners under the scheme relate to depression and/or anxiety.
The Better Access program is open to all GPs and replaced the previous Better Outcomes program that was available only to GPs who had undergone specific psychological training.
BEACH data analysis has shown that compared to Better Outcomes, the new program significantly increased the rates of depression management in primary care, with a halving of the referral rate to psychiatrists, a six-fold increase in referrals to psychologists, and no change in medication rates.
- Written by Robin Osborne
Small ads running in the national press may have big implications for public health, as Robin Osborne reports…
National advertising placed by the Department of Health appears to suggest that the impacts of plain-packaging tobacco legislation on tobacco companies will outweigh the health benefits of making cigarette packs unappealing to present or potential smokers.
Seeking public input to a ‘post implementation review’ on the measure, introduced by Labor’s then-health minister Nicola Roxon, the ad advises that a consultant has been engaged to “inform an analysis of the material impacts of the tobacco plain packaging measure on stakeholders and, where possible, quantify the costs and benefits of the measure.”
To what extent the public – smokers or otherwise - are seen as ‘stakeholders’ is unclear. So is whether lessening the risk of lung cancer through repugnant imagery might qualify as a ‘material impact’.
- Written by Robin Osborne
Long known as the Lismore tip, or even less attractively, the town dump, the facility that manages the city’s wastes is now called the Lismore Recycling and Recovery Centre.
The change is not just in the branding, but in reality, with the well managed facility becoming the envy of many a local Council.
An equally dramatic transformation has taken place at the adjacent Rainforest Botanic Gardens. Here, on a sizeable patch of once unappealing scrub, characterised by weeds, fallen trees, and illegally dumped rubbish, knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers are creating a network of walking paths through regenerated sub-tropical forest.
Such a project was long the dream of Friends of Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens, a group formed well before a site had even been identified. A founder member was plant enthusiast and long-serving retired local GP, the late Calder Chaffey (see separate story).
Today, the gardens are a protected space where representatives of all the unique plant species of our sub-tropical area can be grown in an ecosystem where they will thrive.