This Australia Day let us take a moment to consider Australian breakthroughs in healthcare. Most of us may think that many of the health innovations came from powerhouse countries, however; Australia has contributed greatly to the world of healthcare research and professional practice. Be proud of the developments that wonderful Australians have achieved. Go Aussie!
Which Australian is estimated to have saved over 200 million lives to date?
Penicillin had already been discovered some years prior by Alexander Fleming, however, in 1939 Australian Nobel Laureate Sir Howard Florey created the first penicillin suitable for human use. Testing began in 1940, when 8 mice where administered a lethal dose of streptococcus bacteria. Florey and his team treated four of the mice with his penicillin, and the others received no treatment. The next day, the mice who received penicillin survived and the untreated mice had died. Florey’s penicillin was rolled out by D-Day, and the impact that his antibiotic has made is thought to have influenced the outcome of World War II. Many modern antibiotics are penicillin based, and it is estimated that 200 million people since have benefited from this Australian medical breakthrough.
Which new vaccine was developed in Australia?
The cervical cancer vaccine! The vaccine particles were researched and developed by Professor Ian Frazer and his team at the University of Queensland. Their vaccine has been demonstrated to protect against strains 6, 11, 16 and 18 of the Human Papilloma Virus, responsible for cervical cancer and genital warts. HPV also occurs in men. In 2009, 771 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer, impacting on 4100 Australian lives, and in 2010, 232 women lost their battle with the disease (Source: Cancer Australia). These rates are expected to drop in the coming years, after almost 100 million doses of the vaccine have been administered worldwide.
What type of cancer was first treated successfully by an Australian doctor with chemotherapy?
Childhood leukaemia often tugs at our heartstrings and before the late 1940’s it was considered a death sentence: palliative care was considered the only treatment option. In 1948 however, Dr John Colebatch began the first clinical trial using chemotherapy to treat leukaemia, and with great success. Today, 75% of childhood leukaemias are successfully treated with chemotherapy.
Which emergency response system is an Australian idea?
Australians are even showing the value of mateship in the hospital care setting. Medical emergencies occur in a variety of settings, and the hospital is a common place for these to occur. Hopefully, with the support of doctors and nurses, patients can survive incidents without long term injury. Did you know that without Australian ingenuity, that this may not have been possible? The medical emergency team [MET] was developed at Liverpool Hospital in Sydney in the early 1990’s. Prior to inclusion of these teams in hospitals events such as cardiac arrests and other life threatening emergencies in hospital wards had a 29% chance of survival at discharge. Since then, the MET team has taken off globally, and research confirms its success: a 50% increase in survival rates and a 30% decrease in the need for high dependency and intensive care admissions.
Find out more about Australian health innovation
Read more about more Australian medical developments and why medical research is so important:
- Breakthroughs – Garvan Institute of Medical Research
- Australia’s research successes – Discoveries Need Dollars. Protect medical research
- Howard Florey – Maker of the Miracle Mould – ABC
- Skin cancer breakthrough to be developed in Brisbane – UQ News
This article is written by our skincare nurse Alexandra Matkevich RN.