Nuclear medicine (not submarines) – is this Australia’s most pressing nuclear issue?

1 OCTOBER 2021

Nuclear medicine (not submarines) – is this Australia’s most pressing nuclear issue?

Forget nuclear submarines, a leading Charles Sturt University nuclear medicine expert has welcomed the federal government’s announcement to finally secure the nuclear medicine supply in Australia and narrow the health care gap in regional areas.

  • A Charles Sturt University nuclear medicine expert welcomes the announcement to finally secure the future nuclear medicine supply in Australia
  • Production of nuclear medicines save or change the lives of 12,000 Australians every week
  • The expert says the proposed new facility will both secure future supply and provide sustainability of that supply, which will narrow the health care gap in regional areas

Forget nuclear submarines, a leading Charles Sturt University nuclear medicine expert has welcomed the federal government’s announcement to finally secure the nuclear medicine supply in Australia and narrow the health care gap in regional areas.

The government announcement on Thursday 30 September says the aim is to safeguard Australia’s sovereign capability to produce vital nuclear medicines by launching a $30 million project to design a new world-leading manufacturing facility to be built at Lucas Heights in Sydney.

Professor in Nuclear Medicine Geoff Currie, AM, (pictured) in the Charles Sturt School of Dentistry and Medical Sciences was part of a small team of industry leaders who worked with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) during 2018. In 2019 during multiple supply crises he helped to manage vital but scarce resources by providing as much equity and social justice as possible.

Professor Currie said, “The government’s announcement is a major win in providing social justice through closing the health care inequity gap for our rural and regional communities.

“This includes those areas where Charles Sturt University campuses are located ─ Bathurst, Orange, Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Dubbo, and Port Macquarie.

“These communities all have nuclear medicine services that change the lives of our communities and improve patient outcomes but have been repeatedly devastated by ongoing supply issues this government plan aims to address.

“This is about both securing future supply and providing sustainability of that supply and should be welcomed by our communities.”

Professor Currie explained that ANSTO operates a world leading facility in the production of nuclear medicines that save or change the lives of 12,000 Australians every week

He said ANSTO also provides critical nuclear medicine for international communities, and the facility is unique in that all three phases of the production cycle are co-located on the same site.

“Australia boasts a state-of-the-art research reactor to produce the radionuclides and a brand-new world-leading extraction facility (ANM) to separate the nuclear medicines from the targets,” he said.

“But the third facility (Building 23) responsible for then producing the end products shipped to clinical sites across the country is 60 years old and has major maintenance issues.

“In 2018 a belt malfunction in Building 23 saw nine months of supply issues that impact patients across the country but had dire ramifications for our rural and regional communities.”

During 2018 and a six-month crisis in 2019 Professor Currie was part of a small team of industry leaders who worked with ANSTO to manage allocation of scarce resources in a way that provided as much equity and social justice as possible.

Over the last four years Professor Currie has worked with ANSTO, federal and state governments, professional bodies (RAINS, AANMS, ANZSNM) and other industry leaders to lobby for funding to replace Building 23. He was also a key part of the consultation process that informed the business case produced and provided to the government.

“The planning funding announcement will help secure nuclear medicine services that change the lives of our communities and improve patient outcomes that were devastated by the ongoing supply issues,” he said.

Professor Currie said he was proud of the role he played representing Charles Sturt University and RAINS in getting this project into the development phase.


Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Professor Geoff Currie contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or via news@csu.edu.au

The joint announcement on Thursday 30 September was made by the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction the Hon. Angus Taylor, MP; the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham; and the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Greg Hunt, MP.


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