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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3916

(Question No. 409)

Mr Sawford asked the Minister for Health and Family Services, upon notice, on 18 June 1996:

(1) What (a) initiatives have been taken and (b) funding has been allocated to assist the estimated 30,000 Australians who suffer from myalgic encephalomyelitis, also know as chronic fatigue syndrome.

(2) Has the National Health and Medical Research Council allocated, or will it allocate, funding for the research on myalgic encephalomyelitis.

Dr Wooldridge —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)(a) & (b) The Government recognises the difficulties faced by those people unfortunately afflicted by this debilitating condition and has taken steps to address their concerns.

The Government has approved funding to enable the Royal Australasian College of Physicians to produce a series of guidelines on the most clinically relevant and cost effective methods of diagnosing and treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has been provided with an advance of $130,000 to enable this project to commence. "The project will be managed by a Steering Committee comprising representatives from the College itself together with representatives from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Rheumatology Association, the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Pathologists of Austral ia, the Australian Society for Infectious Diseases and the Australasian Faculty of Occupational Medicine.

In addition, the Steering Committee will have representation from the Consumers' Health Forum and a health economist.

A project officer has been appointed to provide administrative assistance to the Steering Committee which is expected to hold its first meeting over the next four weeks."

The guidelines will be published as a supplement to the Medical Journal of Australia and will be widely distributed to all general practitioners and specialist/consultant physicians with an interest in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

(2) In 1996 the National Health and Medical Research Council is providing $454,000 for support of a program of research at the University of New South Wales which is investigating aspects of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.