FEDERAL Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has drawn attention to a Coalition Government commitment of $26.5 million towards a number of health initiatives in the Torres Strait – targeting mosquito-borne diseases, sexually transmissible infections, and health facility support.
“Our most recent Federal Budget was quite significant for the people of the Torres Strait,” said Mr Entsch.
“A number of Papua New Guinea nationals travel across the Torres Strait Protected Zone to access our health care services, so we’ve extended the National Partnership Agreement on the Management of Torres Strait-Papua New Guinea Cross-Border Health Issues.
“From July this year the Coalition Government will provide $19 million over four years to help local health facilities in the Torres Strait – and the broader Queensland health system – provide medical care to Papua New Guinea nationals who travel across the Strait for treatment.
“The money will be allocated by Queensland Health, but I’ll certainly be making it known that an appropriate level of this funding must be invested in the Saibai, Boigu and Thursday Island clinics – because they are at the frontline for providing these services.”
Mr Entsch said funding had also been provided to address the high rates of sexually transmissible infections.
“We’ve committed $4.5 million over four years, from July, to the Queensland Government to support their healthcare personnel on Saibai Island as they work to reduce the rates of blood-borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections. This funding will also help them expand their current activities across the rest of the Torres Strait,” he said.
Mr Entsch said exotic mosquitoes are also in the Coalition Government’s sights.
“We’re providing $3 million over three years from July 2017 to prevent the Asian Tiger mosquito becoming established in high-transit areas like Horn and Thursday Islands,” said Mr Entsch.
“The funding will also allow us to better share information and data with Papua New Guinea on communicable diseases and health issues which arise from people travelling between our two countries.”
Mr Entsch said that although the funding was included in the Treasurer’s 2016-17 Budget, it was to a high degree dependent on the Coalition Government being successful in the upcoming election.
“These health measures are Coalition Government commitments, part of our broader economic plan that is designed to strengthen families and communities, and encourage job creation and economic growth,” he said.
“A Labor government may not have the same priorities, so this funding is only guaranteed under a re-elected Coalition Government.”