Worst year on record for diseases as Labor takes on Govt
LAST year has been considered one of the worst on record for diseases, according to NSW Labor.
NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has come out swinging, accusing the Baird government of failing to respond to emerging health problems.
""This is just another example of the incompetence by the NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner who is unable to respond to problems in the health and hospital system in the state," he said.
In 2016, Labor claimed that nine out of 10 major disease categories reported for the year have been the worst on record.
Mr Secord pointed to 2016 NSW Health data released this week showing a significant increase in reports of:
- Legionnaires' disease (125 cases) - worst year on record in NSW;
- Salmonella (4,445 cases) - worst year on record in NSW;
- Listeriosis (34 cases) - worst year on record in NSW;
- Meningococcal disease - (74 cases) - worst year on record in NSW;
- Cryptosporidiosis (1,177 cases) - worst year on record;
- Pneumococcal infection (537 cases) - worst year on record;
- Verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli infections (e.coli) - 64 cases - worst year on record;
- Tuberculosis (460 cases) - equal worst year with 2013;
- Dengue fever (441 cases) - worst year on record - but most would have been contracted overseas; and
- Ross River virus (513 cases) - not the worst as 2014 (678 cases) and 2015 reported more cases (1,623 cases).
In addition, with protracted higher temperatures in NSW, there are more cases of gastroenteritis outbreaks in nursing homes and child care centres.
At one point, in June-July 2016, there were at least 50 known separate gastro outbreaks in NSW and 3,353 cases reported in the State's 80 emergency departments.
Climate Change to blame
Mr Secord pointed to climate change as one of the key factors as well as international travel and contact with other regions.
At the July 2016 global conference on health and climate, the World Health Organisation projected that there would be an extra 250,000 deaths a year worldwide to illnesses associated with climate change.
Climate change-related increases in temperature will increase the risk of food-borne infections such as salmonellosis and listeriosis, and may also raise the risk of sporadic amoebic meningoencephalitis.
Mr Secord called on the Baird Government to properly conduct surveillance and monitoring of air cooling systems and consider targeted spraying in selected areas after flooding - as well as appropriate public health campaigns alerting families to possible symptoms.