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Report from the MCS Reference Group meeting – 20 September, 2007

From Peter Evans, Convenor, SA Task Force on MCS

Friday 21 September 2007

ChemicalsThere is good news from the most recent MCS Reference Group meeting.

MCS hospital protocols

The Minister for Health has specifically asked Department of Health and Ageing staff to develop and implement MCS hospital protocols. Based on a decision by senior bureaucrats in the Dept, the Royal Brisbane Hospital’s MCS protocol will be adopted and adapted by the SA Dept of Health for use in all public hospitals in this state. The suggested amendments and additions to the protocol developed by the Allergy Sensitivity and Environmental Health Association of Qld were tabled and promoted at the meeting. Many thanks to their President, Dorothy Bowes, for her work in this area. Dept of Health staff involved with further development of the protocols have advised that they are keen to consult with MCS-related community groups. The time frame for implementation of the protocols is not yet clear but the task will be undertaken in conjunction with a major review of the public health care system in SA. It may take some time (18 months or so?) but the issue is moving up the Dept’s priority list of “things to do”.

No-Spray Registers with Local Councils

As part of implementing herbicide/pesticide No-Spray Registers to identify people with MCS in the community the Dept of Primary Industries and Resources has developed an initial draft document “Guidelines for Local Government on Mitigating Multiple Chemical Sensitivity by Reducing Pesticide Exposure”. The document makes close reference to the Parliamentary Inquiry into MCS and, on first reading, its 14 pages look pretty good with recommendations for such things as minimising pesticide use; alternative weed control methods; prior notice of spray activity by letter, newspapers, posters, etc; advising the public to avoid sprayed areas for a prescribed time; erecting signage, and using barriers on target boundaries; spraying when human activity is minimal in the area; and using dye markers to identify recently sprayed areas. The document is not yet available for public comment but the next draft should be.

Office of Chemical Safety Briefing Material on MCS

A two page briefing document on MCS and the proposed review of national MCS policy from the Office of Chemical Safety was tabled at the meeting. It makes some good statements such as reference to community group’s claims that the failure of government to address MCS has resulted in a public health crisis and our call for a national MCS prevention and disability access strategy. But it also ramps up the scepticism surrounding MCS.

Developing an Agenda

The MCS Reference Group will develop a more complete agenda of its proposed work in the near future.

General Comment

After years of frustration, it looks like there is real headway being made on MCS public policy.


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