A Kirby Institute initiative that will develop a digital health tool to aid the equitable elimination of cervical cancer in Australia has been awarded funding through the highly competitive Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Primary Health Care Digital Innovations scheme.
Cervical cancer elimination in Australia could be possible as early as 2035, but for Australia to realise this goal, it is crucial that barriers in the access to cervical cancer prevention services in primary health care are addressed.
Project lead, Professor Claire Vajdic, and her multi-institutional team will use the $1,58 million in funding to build a new health equity digital navigation tool that will fast-track the elimination of cervical cancer in Australia.
“This project addresses a major health problem in Australia, which is the urgent need for targeted cervical cancer prevention services in primary care for disadvantaged populations,” says Prof Vajdic. “There is huge amount of existing health and social data in Australia. What this project will do is bring this data together, so we can rapidly identify gaps and overlooked areas that require more attention to achieve cervical cancer elimination.”
Five priority population groups experience barriers to prevention services: people with a disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with socioeconomic disadvantage, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and people living in remote areas.
“We will work in close partnership with these communities to ensure the tool that we develop can inform tailored clinical practices to address under-vaccination and under-screening. A particular challenge we hope to overcome is how to ensure vaccination and screening among people that do not routinely attend primary care or the same practitioner”.
Other investigators on the project are Professor Rebecca Guy, Dr Dorothy Machalek, Dr Hamish McManus and Dr Cassandra Vujovich-Dunn from Kirby Institute, Dr Kalinda Griffiths and Professor Julian Trollor from UNSW Medicine and Health and colleagues from University of Sydney, Family Planning NSW, NACCHO, University of Melbourne, University of Newcastle and Australian National University.
“Together with our partners, we have a strong track-record in research on cervical cancer elimination in Australia. We’re grateful for this funding from the Australian government and looking forward to the positive health impacts this work can have.”
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