People in the Pilbara region now have access to a free community skin cancer screening service that is touring the region, with the help of a $65,000 Western Australian Government grant through the Pilbara Fund.
Funding for the tour is in addition to an initial $540,000 from the Pilbara Fund that enabled the Royal Flying Doctor Service to buy a custom-built mobile health unit. The Pilbara Fund is administered through the WA Government’s Pilbara Development Commission.
The free screenings will build on the success of a pilot program conducted in 2007, which saw 1,040 people screened, resulting in a 23 per cent referral rate for suspect skin lesions. This is in comparison with a five to 10 per cent referral rate for the South-West region.
A team of Lions International and professional health volunteers, including nurses and representatives from the WA Society of Plastic Surgeons, will join with ‘RFDS on the road’ staff to spend six weeks screening people at 13 Pilbara communities.
Pilbara Minister Jon Ford caught up with the ‘RFDS on the road’ team earlier this week, before they began their Pilbara tour. Mr Ford said the screening program would deliver preventative and life-saving skin cancer screenings to communities across the Pilbara.
“This mobile health initiative means that people will have access to state-of-the-art skin screening services close to their home,” Mr Ford said.
“The skin cancer message is simple - in the Pilbara, people need to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun every day, not just during summer.”
The Minister said the initiative was only made possible by a partnership involving the State Government, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Lions Cancer Institute.
“We’re very hopeful that this year’s program will give many more people the opportunity to be screened,” he said.
The first phase of the tour started on July 9 and has already been to Onslow (July 9) and Pannawonica (July 10-11). It is also going to Dampier (July 12-14), Wickham (July 16-17) and Karratha (July 18-20). For bookings please contact the Pilbara Division of General Practice on 9185 6662.
The next phases will cover Port and South Hedland, Marble Bar and Nullagine from July 22 to July 31, and Paraburdoo, Tom Price, Karijini and Newman from August 4 until August 14.
Minister's office 9213 7200
Pilbara Minister Jon Ford with 'RFDS on the road' program manager Tricia Slee.