Women’s health gets $13m boost

Alicia PereraPilbara News

Women’s health will receive a boost in several Pilbara towns as the focus of a new phase of a long-term regional health program.

A $13.63 million extension of the Pilbara Health Initiative — a partnership between the State Government and industry aimed at improving healthcare in the region — announced last week will bring more obstetric services and medical specialists to Nickol Bay Hospital in Karratha and support a women’s health program in Tom Price and Newman.

New positions being funded include an emergency medicine specialist, a surgeon, a paediatrician, and a medical support officer.

WA Country Health Service regional director Ron Wynn said rural women’s health was a focus of the health initiative’s latest phase.

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“As women aged 20-40 years make up more than 40 per cent of the local population, phase two also focuses on rural women’s health,” he said.

“This includes the provision of a women’s health nurse through the Nintirri Centre who will work within the primary care framework and develop initiatives including early detection and illness prevention, health screens and referrals to appropriate services.”

Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the five-year first phase of the Pilbara Health Initiative had already made a substantial impact on communities’ level of access to healthcare.

“For the first time, five Pilbara towns have permanently based paramedics, patients in Karratha have access to a CT scanner, and more women have been able to give birth locally,” he said.

“This four-year funding extension reflects the Pilbara Cities vision of building vibrant and liveable communities that people will choose to raise a family in and call home long into the future.”

Health Minister John Day said the new phase of the Pilbara Health Initiative followed the so-far successful implementation of the strategy. “Over the past decade, we have seen a rapid increase in the region’s population due to the extraordinary resource sector development, and this has put significant pressure on health services,” he said.

Phase two of the health program is due to start in June.

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