Indigenous Australians Recognised In H1n1 Influenza 09 Health Response

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25th June 2009, 01:28pm - Views: 812

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MDP 84  GPO Box 9848  Canberra ACT 2601

Telephone:  (02) 6289 8408  Facsimile:  (02) 6285 1994


Professor Jim Bishop AO


Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer


25th June 2009

Indigenous Australians recognised in H1N1 Influenza 09 Health Response

All of Australia is now responding to the outbreak of H1N1 Influenza 09 in the PROTECT

pandemic alert phase which is concentrating our efforts on caring for the most medically

vulnerable in our community.

The new phase recognises that the infection with H1N1 Influenza 09 is not as severe as

originally envisaged when the Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza

(AHMPPI) was written in 2008 and that this new disease is mild in most cases, severe in

some and moderate overall. 

PROTECT phase places a greater focus on treating and caring for people in whom the disease

may be severe.  

Indigenous Australians living in remote communities are being targeted in this new health

management phase with responses that are flexible to meet the individual circumstances in


We know that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher incidence of

other medical conditions and all governments have mounted an appropriate response to

mitigate the effects of the disease on people whose pre-existing medical conditions make

them vulnerable to H1N1 influenza 09.

I have made antivirals (tamiflu) available to the NT, South Australian and West Australian

governments from the National Medical Stockpile for pre-deployment in communities. Its use

will be judged clinically on a case by case basis, depending on the risk of influenza to

vulnerable individuals.

Widespread use of Tamiflu as a preventive measure across remote Indigenous communities

would not be an appropriate use of the available antivirals but in some cases it will be the

right thing to do to if people are identified at particular risk, or to contain the disease in

certain circumstances.

It is a delicate balance between protecting remote Indigenous communities from H1N1

Influenza 09 and making sure that antivirals are well targeted.

The Commonwealth is working closely with the States and Territories on responsible

arrangements to protect Indigenous people, including support for Aboriginal Medical

Services and plans to retrieve people from remote areas quickly if they require


We are consulting with governments, health professionals and Indigenous organisations to

provide appropriate, on going responses, including  the development of an Indigenous

appendix to the new PROTECT pandemic alert phase Annex to the national pandemic

influensa plan which sets out guide lines for case management, contact management, access

to antiviral treatment and personal protective equipment (including pre-positioning for remote

locations), governance arrangements and a framework to assist Aboriginal Medical Services

with local planning.

Media contact:  Kay McNiece, 0412 132 585


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