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Calls for national body on infectious diseases

A parliamentary inquiry has heard broad-based support for a national centre for disease control.

The federal immigration department and health experts have called on the government to set up a national centre for disease control, modelled on the US organisation that monitors and manages outbreaks.

Infectious disease specialist Dr Adrian Sleigh from the Australian National University told a parliamentary hearing last Friday that federal, state and regional health bodies need to work together more closely.

A national centre for disease control, overarching governments and health agencies, was needed, he told a committee inquiry into Health issues across international borders in Canberra.
Public Health Association of Australia chief, Michael Moore agreed, saying a more centralised framework would ensure health concerns were addressed across state and federal jurisdictions.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) chief medical officer Paul Douglas also backed the proposal.

"From a DIAC perspective we would see that as beneficial, to have a one point of contact," he told the committee.

"Having a centralised body and a nationally consistent approach would be very beneficial."

Meanwhile, Dr Douglas also said the immigration department was working hard to ensure people applying for visas for Australia were properly screened for tuberculosis and that those affected had received the necessary treatment before arriving.

The federal parliamentary committee inquiry is currently investigating the risk of infectious diseases reaching Australia and necessary monitoring and control measures.


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