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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13311


Ms SAFFIN (Page) (13:27): I too would like to thank the honourable member for Brisbane for bringing this matter before the House. The private member's motion was to acknowledge World Hepatitis Day, which was 28 July. The motion also lists a number of facts and figures and observations that I wholeheartedly support, including point (2), which says:

… welcomes scientific and treatment advances that greatly increase the chance of curing patients with the most common and hardest to treat strain of hepatitis C.

There are a number of other things that the honourable member pointed out in there. What I would like to put on the public record is some facts and figures to do with the area that I live in. My home is Lismore, my seat is Page, I live in the Northern Rivers on the North Coast, and I have here some observations and statistics which I got from North Coast Medicare Local and also from the local health service. It was on one of the papers of the ASHM New South Wales. It was a paper about chlamydia, STIs, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and it was issues from Medicare Locals. I quote from that:

Northern NSW has the highest notification rate of HCV—

that is hepatitis c—

in NSW. The rate is highest in the LGAs of Byron and Lismore—

Lismore is my home town.

Northern NSW has the 4th highest rate of—

and then it goes on and talks about chlamydia. It also talks about the rates there and it covers the North Coast of New South Wales, a bigger area. So it is covering the Northern Rivers and the North Coast. The paper has a table which covers the same areas and which has a measurement of the high impact, medium impact and low impact. Again, it has HIV data, but it also talks about hepatitis B and C and chlamydia, but hepatitis C, HCV, is rated at No. 1, which is the highest impact on the scale of one to 15, with 15 being the lowest impact. I thought it was important that I put that on the record.

I also have here a media statement from 25 July. In the statement, the Northern New South Wales Local Health District Manager of HIV and related programs, Jenny Heslop, was talking about data from Medicare Locals which showed the rate of hepatitis C infection. Again, it shows the same figures but they are saying that, even though there are a number of public health strategies in place, there is still a way to go. The media statement talked about illnesses that hepatitis C can cause, such as cirrhosis, liver failure and cancer. But it can be treated. In the media release Jenny Heslop talks about treatment and what the treatment is. She said that it has a really high success rate, which I think is over 70 per cent. She was encouraging people to utilise that treatment.

The same report that I was referring to earlier, I think, talked about people receiving treatment. The figure was quite low. I cannot remember but I think it was 1.6 per cent or something. That has stuck in my mind. I had to read it a few times to believe it because it seemed incredibly low. Somehow we have to get more people getting treatment. I want to quote from the Economic Impact of Hepatitis C in Australia, a report by the Boston Consulting Group. They make a whole lot of observations, including about prisons and the high numbers of people in prisons. We cannot forget about people in prisons and we need to do a lot of work there. The report goes on to talk about two new drugs and says that one has had:

… regulatory approval in the US, Canada, Japan, the UK, the EU, Switzerland and Australia, although it is not yet listed here on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule …

I think they are the drugs that people are talking about. I know people who are utilising them and getting some good results. I have read a report on how they work. (Time expired)

Debate adjourned.

Proceedings suspended from 13:33 to 16 : 00