Australia has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world. This is due to heavy use of asbestos during the industrial and building boom that took place between the 1950s and the 1980s.
Health officials are warning that although the number of victims is already high, the numbers are expected to climb even higher, with some experts predicting an 80 percent increase in the number of diagnoses by the year 2020.
As a result, the government’s health officials have decided to take a proactive approach on a couple of important fronts.
First, the Lung Foundation of Australia, an organization devoted to promoting lung health and education throughout the country, has arranged for special mesothelioma care training for ten nurses.
The trained nurses will become a special interest group entrusted with helping and training other nurses caring for those with the disease. With an anticipation that 25,000 cases of mesothelioma will be diagnosed over the next forty years, the need for this type of specialized care will be essential.
At the same time, starting next year construction workers in Canberra will be required to take special training courses in the handling of asbestos in an effort to excel prevention measures going forward.
The nurses that participated in the training did so voluntarily, and in addition to their regular work responsibilities. The training program included an online component, clinical exposure to mesothelioma patients within the organizations where they were working and a special workshop that was held in Sydney.
The training was described as intensive, and provided them with education on care and support of both patients and their families.
Canberra, the only city in the Australian Capital Territory, is the hardest hit in Australia, in large part because it had such an extensive and expansive construction phase. It’s also the first area in the country to introduce mesothelioma educational requirements for construction workers – the courses will be four hours long.
The courses have been offered to new workers over the last five years, and have led to an increase in awareness of the presence of asbestos in older buildings. It is hoped that the expansion of the program will lead to additional prevention of exposures.