More funds added for psychosocial telehealth to support ovarian cancer patients in Australia

 

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The Australian government has added A$2 million ($1.4 million) more to independent non-profit Ovarian Cancer Australia to help maintain its provision of psychosocial telehealth services to ovarian cancer patients. 

WHY IT MATTERS

Last year saw approximately 1,700 women in Australia diagnosed with ovarian cancer with 1,000 dying from the disease. Given a low 5-year survival rate of below 50% and a recurrence rate of up to 70%, four in 10 women with ovarian cancer experience clinical levels of anxiety or depression, according to OCA.

The government's additional funding, the group said, will help them continue providing psychosocial telehealth support services through its Teal Support Programme until the fiscal year 2023-2024. 

This programme employs trained oncology and gynaecological nurses to provide advice and support to people with ovarian cancer from diagnosis through post-treatment. It aims to "ensure continuity of care, greater access to support and improved quality of life for all women with ovarian cancer," the organisation said.

Since it launched in 2019, it has assisted over 400 women. With its latest funds, it can support 800 more women, especially those from regional areas. Currently, over a quarter of women from rural communities have accessed its telehealth services.

THE LARGER TREND

The funding adds to the overall A$62.5 million ($45 million) that the federal government has so far invested into ovarian cancer research through the National Health and Medical Research Council since 2012. Nearly A$21 million ($15 million) has also been committed by the Medical Research Future Fund to ovarian cancer research projects since 2015.

Aside from telehealth, the government also supports women with ovarian cancer through subsidising some medications under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Last year, it spent more than $30 million to provide life-saving medicines to treat ovarian cancer, including Lynparza (olaparib).

In other regional news, Chinese non-profit Bethune Charitable Foundation has recently employed a patient management system by health-tech provider Zhongchao to support its project assisting ovarian cancer patients in their treatment. The platform records, tracks, and views various indications of a patient's body and disease during their medication.

ON THE RECORD

"For some women, the mental impacts of ovarian cancer can be just as challenging as the physical symptoms. The Teal Support Programme provides a truly holistic approach to treatment including emotional support for women and their loved ones, advice on symptom management, guidance through aspects of treatment and crisis support," said OCA chief Jane Hill.

"The funding from the government will ensure we can maintain momentum and build the scale of this essential programme. Not only will this improve the lives of many women with ovarian cancer and their families [but] it will also help to ease the pressure on the healthcare system by providing accessible and immediate support for women in need," she added.



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