How we can avert a flu pandemic

STATE Health Minister Steven Miles says Queensland is in good hands in the event of a disease outbreak or flu pandemic, and denies claims hospitals are under-prepared.

"We're better prepared than ever before for all situations including natural disasters, terror attacks, outbreaks and pandemics," Mr Miles said, following claims by a top clinician that doctors did not have an outlined plan of action to follow in a crisis.

Queensland palliative care specialist Dr Will Cairns, in a comment piece in the Medical Journal of Australia, expressed his concerns that doctors could be faced with choosing which patient was more deserving if demand outstripped medical resources.

A Queensland Health spokesman also responded to the concerns yesterday.

"Queenslanders rely on their health system in times of need because they know we have well developed - and tested - systems and processes in place to keep as many people as well as possible during a disease outbreak or pandemic," the spokesman said.

National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance head of clinical research Professor Robert Booy said a pandemic was inevitable, and not a matter of if but when.


The locations of deaths from Queensland's horror flu season.
The locations of deaths from Queensland's horror flu season.


Meanwhile, following the death of Toowoomba mother Jacinta Foulds yesterday, the Health Minister has urged Queenslanders to be vigilant in the Ekka period.

"With the Ekka upon us, we're still in the peak of the flu season and I want to remind all Queenslanders to get the flu shot if you haven't already, wash your hands properly and regularly, stay at home if you're sick and cover a cough with a tissue," Mr Miles said.

"The Palaszczuk Government funds free flu shots for children under five and recently announced that 16 and 17-year-olds can visit a pharmacy to get a flu shot, making it even easier for people of all ages."

AMA Queensland president Dr Dilip Dhupelia said the death of Mrs Foulds was a very sad reminder that everyone needed to be vigilant when it came to the flu, as the complications could be deadly.