World disease authority is keynote speaker at ag health training
A world authority on occupational diseases will be a keynote speaker at the National Centre for Farmer Health’s 2016 Agricultural Health and Medicine (HMF701) post graduate course run through Deakin University School of Medicine.
Five years ago Dr Gert van der Laan, founder of the Netherlands Centre for Occupational Diseases, was involved in the world’s largest outbreak of Q Fever.
In 2009-2011 the Netherlands faced around 2500 cases and 24 fatalities as well as slaughtering thousands of goats.
Dr van der Laan said the outbreak was the inevitable result of too many goats living in close proximity to humans with poor hygiene practices.
He said the proximity of livestock and humans per square kilometer in the Netherlands was not a challenge faced by Australians but still provided a frightening insight of the rampant nature of the disease.
“In European agriculture, occupational health services and good working conditions are lacking in contrast to a lot of other industries,” Dr van der Laan said.
“There are a lot of accidents and disease challenges and the reason I would like to see courses like HMF701 Agricultural Health and Medicine worldwide is to further develop occupational health,” he said.
“That is what our Committee on Rural Health from the International Conference on Occupational Health is about.”
“These courses should be made available to doctors, nurses and to other ag-related services.
“I expect to take as many ideas back to Europe with me as I can offer during my presentation in Australia.”
Currently visiting professor at the International Centre for Rural Health at the University of Milan, and active within the Foundation for Learning and Developing Occupational Health,
Dr van der Laan said there is a course similar to HMF701 in the US and Sweden.
He said countries need to learn from each other, with teaching material shared through international networks to deliver “this valuable and essential” training.
Director of the National Centre for Farmer Health, Dr Susan Brumby, said HMF701 was still the only course of its kind in Australia, and that the Swedish and American experience showed its ability to adapt to other countries.
“Just looking around our own borders I have no doubt it would be a perfect fit for New Zealand and Indonesia,” Dr Brumby said.
“More than 120 people have completed this ground-breaking course in agricultural health, wellbeing and safety with every state and mainland territory represented,” she said.
“This growing number of health professionals are addressing the health disparities in our agricultural and rural populations and making a real difference to the lives of farmers and their families and employees.
“The 2016 course begins with a one-week intensive from February 22 to 26 and if you have a staff member with a passion and interest in rural health and injuries support them to increase their skills and knowledge with this innovative course, and make a difference.
“People with this training are uniquely placed to become leaders within your organisation in agricultural health and medicine.
“Alternatively, if you have any staff undertaking post graduate studies, such as diabetes education, masters of nursing, agribusiness, social work, critical care, midwifery, policy or pharmacy, HMF701 can also be taken as an elective.
“Doctors enrolled with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) or Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) fellowships can claim two credit points towards their Graduate Certificate in Agricultural Health and Medicine once completed.”
Places are available and enrolments for the 2016 course are open through Deakin University. For more information visit www.farmerhealth.org.au or contact the Course Director, Dr Susan Brumby on 03 5551 8533.