Victoria and Boston partner to develop new medical solutions
Medical researchers in Victoria, Australia, and world-leading healthcare experts in oncology and paediatric health in Boston, US, are set to partner to deliver and improve new breakthroughs in the treatment of patients in Victoria.
It has been estimated that over 138,000 new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year in Australia, yet the survival rate is high at 68%, according to the Australian Government.
Australian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy announced two historic partnership agreements with Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the county’s Children’s Hospital, which will build on an existing agreement between the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Victoria’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Center – both world leaders in cancer research, prevention, treatment and care.
“Cancer survival rates in Victoria are among the best in the world. Our partnership with Dana Farber Cancer Institute will help save even more lives by working together on future medical breakthroughs,” commented Hennessy.
Researchers from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center and Dr Elaine Sanij are set to visit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in May to work with the world’s leaders in DNA repair therapies in ovarian cancer, which will support Australia’s own clinical trials and advanced research in this field.
Dr Sanij has recently received a High Commendation in Peter Mac’s Lea Award, which recognises emerging female researchers in their early to mid-career and provides support to take part in career advancement opportunities.
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In addition, a number of concrete actions under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne were agreed.
The world’s best practice and expertise in paediatric health, collaboration on research, exchange programs and innovations will now be shared with Victorian researchers.
This includes working with the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement on a core set of global standards for paediatrics, improving safety and quality of care for the youngest patients around the world.
An international working group of patients, parents and leading clinicians and academics will establish key areas of research that matter most to families.
These projects were finalised as part of a delegation to the USA to strengthen international ties between Victoria and some of the world’s most prestigious health and medical research institutions. Engagements with prominent biotech and pharmaceutical companies will also help create jobs and drive investment at home.
Australia’s vision is to become a global exporter of healthcare services and research for the future, outlined through its Labor Government’s International Health Strategy 2016-2020. The healthcare sector provides a significant boost to the local economy of up to AUD$30bn and is responsible for up to 130,000 jobs within Victoria.
A new app is providing vital palliative care in Ethiopia
A new mobile phone app has been developed to support patients needing end of life care in Ethiopia.
The Ayzot app has been created in collaboration between the UK's University Surrey, the University of Strathclyde, Hospice Ethiopia, the Federal Ministry of Health and Hello Doctor Ethiopia, an Ethiopian-based software company.
The app is named after a common Ethiopian expression roughly translated to mean "to soothe a sick person". The app is aimed at supporting patients with life-limiting illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, by helping them manage pain along with other symptoms.
A self-assessment management system leads the patient or carer through a common set of symptoms such as pain, nausea, drowsiness, breathlessness, tiredness, and loss of appetite.
Successful symptom management
Both patients and carers are encouraged to use the Ayzot app to assess the severity of each symptom using a combination of measures, including a pain assessment scale. The app contains both pharmacological and non-pharmacological medication information, and where appropriate it directs the user to get help and further information on things like wound care, spiritual care and diet.
During beta user-testing, carers reported positive changes in how they treated their loved one’s wounds because of the advice found on the app. Healthcare professionals commented on the app's potential to support them in delivering targeted care with limited resources. The patients testing the app reported that it helped them feel more reassured and supported with their pain management and symptom control.
Accessing palliative care
The majority of Ethiopia's 114 million people live in rural locations where access to palliative care is difficult, and there is only one hospice in the entire country. The pandemic has made accessing care even more difficult. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to essential palliative care in Ethiopia has been reduced" Dr Nicola Carey, from the School of Health Sciences at the University of Surrey said.
"I believe the app will help prevent disease and treat patients. We hope that Ayzot will be embedded into the national palliative care clinical provision to support healthcare professionals and provide enhanced palliative coverage in Ethiopia.”
The team behind Ayzot are now planning to test the app in other African countries.