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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 112

(Question No. 4985)

Mr Ruddock asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 28 November 1986:

(1) Has Australia launched a measles-free Bicentennial program as a form of national immunisation campaign aimed at the complete control of measles in Australia by 1988 and its complete eradication thereafter.

(2) Does this program meet the objectives of the UNICEF resolution of achieving universal immunisation of young children by 1990; if not, when will programs be established to ensure Australia's compliance with the objectives.

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

(1) A National Campaign Against Measles (NCAM) has been established as a special Bicentennial health initiative. The aims of the NCAM are to:

* increase community awareness of the potential seriousness of the disease;

* encourage measles immunisation;

* control measles in Australia by 1988, the Bicentennial year, with eradication as soon as possible thereafter.

(2) Measles vaccine is provided free by the Commonwealth, but in the absence of compulsion the UNICEF goal of universal immunisation is unlikely to be achieved in Australia.

The Commonwealth is encouraging the States to check immunisation records at school entry, and specific options will be discussed at the Australian Health Ministers' Conference in April.

In conjunction with the present public awareness campaign, such a monitoring arrangement has a real prospect of improving the rate of immunisation to a level which will result in eradication of the disease.