A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the University of Nusa Cendana (UNDANA) and the University of Tasmania.

UNDANA is situated in Kupang, in the eastern Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT), which includes West Timor.  UNDANA has a new medical school and the first cohort of students will graduate in 2013.

The MOU will initially focus on collaboration with between the UTAS School of Medicine and UNDANA School of Medicine, there is capacity for other schools and faculties at UTAS to develop their own specific collaborations, including staff and student exchanges, sharing curriculum, collaborative research and community development programs.

The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) has published a perspective expressing its concern with the ‘little progress’ being made on Australia’s regulatory approach to workplace carcinogen exposure.

The Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has launched an early warning smoke detection system to be dlievered online.

Fears that involuntary exposure to chemicals in food and consumer products causes cancer are not supported by evidence, and anxiety about their dangers is diverting attention from proven methods of cancer prevention, a leading Australian cancer researcher says.

The National Dental Health Advisory Council (NDHAC) has released its first report into the nation’s dental health, finding that $10 billion is required to stop the deterioration of the nation’s dental health.

The Tasmanian Minister for Health, Michelle O’Byrne, outlined a major restructure of the state’s health system, with an overhaul of the Department of Health and a 25 per cent reduction in its work force.

Doctors could soon be able to predict the type and duration of menopausal symptoms an individual woman is likely to experience thanks to new findings from the University of Queensland.

Working in collaboration with the UK Medical Research Council, the UQ research team expects the discoveries will allow doctors to give patients more details on the symptoms they experience leading up to menopause, as well as an idea of their likely duration after menopause.

The research team, led by Professor Gita Mishra from UQ's School of Population Health, found that the severity and range of health symptoms experienced through midlife formed into groups and distinct patterns, but only some of these, such as vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and cold or night sweats) were related to the timing of the menopause.

“Women who experienced only minimal symptoms before their last period were unlikely to develop severe symptoms later, while for others the timing of symptoms relative to menopause was key to understanding the likely duration of their symptoms,” Professor Mishra said.

The UK study used annual surveys from more than 600 women with natural menopause to identify four groups of symptoms: psychological (eg. anxiety and depression), somatic (eg.headaches and joint pain), vasomotor (eg. hot flushes and night sweats), and sexual discomfort. Women who had undergone hormone treatment or hysterectomies were excluded from the study.

Researchers found that by examining the timing and severity of symptoms, they were able to classify women according to different profiles for each group of symptoms. For instance, with some women the severity of vasomotor symptoms increased leading up to menopause and then tended to decline, while for others whose vasomotor symptoms started and peaked later, symptoms were likely to last four years or more into postmenopause.

The UK study also found that women with higher education levels and social class were less likely to experience vasomotor symptoms than other women.

The UQ study was based on multiple surveys of mid-age women from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Professor Mishra said that she was reassured that, in spite of differences in the surveys used, both studies had identified similar groups and profiles for the severity of symptoms experienced through the menopausal transition.

“While we would still like to see findings from other studies, we do think that symptom profiles are part of a move towards a more tailored approach – where health professionals can make a clearer assessment of what women can expect based on their history of symptoms – and this may be worthwhile not only in terms of reassurance but in selecting treatment options.”

More details on the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development used in the UK study can be found at www.nshd.mrc.ac.uk. The UK study is published in the BMJ (GD Mishra, Kuh D. ‘Health symptoms during midlife in relation to menopausal transition: British prospective cohort study. 344:e402).

Further information on the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health based at UQ and the University of Newcastle can be found at www.alswh.org.au. The UQ study is published in Menopause (Mishra GD, Dobson AJ ‘Using longitudinal profiles to characterize women's symptoms through midlife: results from a large prospective study.' PMID: 22198658).

Professor Alan Lopez,Head of the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland, has been elected Chair of the Executive Board of the Health Metrics Network (HMN), an independent partnership hosted by the World Health Organization designed to improve health information systems in poorer countries.

The HMN, founded in 2005 and based at WHO headquarters in Geneva, works with low and middle income countries to strengthen health information systems that can then provide the reliable, complete and timely information that is essential for public health decision-making and action.

Professor Lopez will Chair the HMN Board for three years, taking over its leadership at a time when the need for accurate health information is more important than ever.

“This is a crucial point in global health when we have the opportunity to consolidate and accelerate some great progress with disease control programs over the past decade, particularly for key global health concerns such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and vaccine preventable conditions such as measles, “ Professor Lopez said

“Consolidating these gains and further improving progress towards the Millennium Development Goals will depend on accurate, relevant and timely health information systems.

“I look forward to the HMN continuing to take a lead role in partnering with countries to improve the quality of their health information systems and, in turn, the health outcomes of some of the world's most vulnerable communities.”

The HMN has developed a framework for health systems that is already in place in more than 80 countries around the world.

Prior to joining The University of Queensland in 2003, Professor Lopez worked at WHO for 22 years where he held a series of technical and senior managerial posts and is co-author of the WHO's Global Burden of Disease Study. He is a highly cited author whose publications have received worldwide acclaim for their rank in importance and influence in health and medical research. Earlier this month, Professor Lopez was co-author of a paper published in The Lancet which showed that worldwide malaria deaths are nearly twice as much as previously thought. Professor Lopez is the co-author (with Sir Richard Peto) of the Peto-Lopez method which is widely used to estimate tobacco-attributable mortality to support policy action.

A world-renowned scientist whose research spans why locusts swarm to the dietary causes of ageing and human obesity has been appointed Academic Director of the University of Sydney's new multidisciplinary centre specialising in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Victorian nurses have started a new round of industrial action over their lengthy and ongoing enterprise bargaining dispute with the Victorian Government.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has announced changes to its policy on the dissemination of research findings, requiring  that that any publications arising from an NHMRC supported research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve month period from the date of publication. 

The NSW Minister for Mental Health, Kevin Humphries, has announced that the NSW Government will prioritise reforms designed to strengthen the State’s forensic mental health system.

The Queensland Government has awarded eight Health Research Fellowships totalling $3.9m  to support the research of Queensland Government workers.

It is planned that Swan District Hospital will close upon the opening of Midland Health Campus.

A new Clinical Research Facility at RMIT University's Bundoora campus is set to become a  hub for community-based clinical trials, hosting the largest primary prevention aspirin study ever undertaken in older Australians.

In the first official study of the phenomenon and the practices associated with ambulance ramping, researchers from Griffith University examined its impact on the delivery of emergency health services across South East Queensland. 

The Federal Government has appointed Leigh McJames as the new general manager of the National Blood Authority (NBA).

Australians are eating themselves to death and our food choices are one of the nation’s leading causes of environmental damage, according to a new report released by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

The Victorian Government has committed $2 million for a new pilot scheme to improve care for people with diabetes.

University of Queensland scientists have developed a new method for producing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which can be used to repair bone and potentially other organs.

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