Bush health boosted with booklet launch 

Associate Professor Sabina Knight (left) and co-ordinating editor Janet Struber with the updated booklet for health professionals.

A significant new approach to diagnosing and managing common and clinically important health conditions in remote Australia has been outlined in the latest release of a specialist practitioner book.

The Alice Springs-based Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association (CARPA) launched the latest version of a standard treatment manual that is considered a “Bible” for health professionals working in “the bush”.

The 5th edition of the CARPA Standard Treatment Manual was launched at The Centre for Remote Health, a facility jointly operated by Charles Darwin and Flinders universities.

Course Coordinator Associate Professor Sabina Knight said the latest edition drew on new research and evidence to better manage remote and Aboriginal health conditions.

"We now recommend an approach using adult health checks to assess the cardiovascular risks of patients and work at managing those, which is a different strategy than just testing patients for diabetes, cardio health and other issues separately," she said.

"Using this scale, we can then make a risk assessment with the patient and look at lifestyle opportunities rather than simply depending on medicines," she said.

The manual was first offered as a loose collection of guidelines in 1991, published in 1992 and has progressively developed into a comprehensive, easy to use health reference for remote and rural professionals.

This latest version is a collaboration with a New Zealand partner, the Institute of Rural Health, and contains an adaptation of the NZ and Australian Heart Foundations’ cardiovascular risk tables.

Dr Knight said rural-based doctors, RANs, allied health, pharmacists, Aboriginal health workers and medical specialists contributed to the manual.

She said the manual supported evidence-based practice in remote and Indigenous health services and offered advice that was realistic to the resources people had in the bush.

"An example is the selection and use of specialist insulin that copes in the heat of the bush where refrigeration may not be available to keep it cold," she said.

Coordinating editor Janet Struber urged health practitioners to update their copies of the booklet.

"Health strategies and advice is changing at a rapid pace and we encourage rural healthcare workers to contact CARPA at the Centre for Remote Health and order new copies," she said. It is available on line at www.crh.org.au.