NCCTRC collaborate with SA Health to tackle Tuberculosis in the APY Lands

08 Jun 2023


NCCTRC recently supported SA Health (South Australia’s state health department) with a mobile x-ray machine as they undertook tuberculosis (TB) screening for school students and community members across the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the far north of South Australia.

SA Health employee and radiographer with the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT), Misha Richards assisted the SA TB Services team as they conducted TB screening using the mobile machine, also providing mentorship and field support for local healthcare staff.

Ms Richards said the secondary machine from NCCTRC was a critical piece of equipment, needed to test as many people within the community as possible.

“TB Services do regular screening of school children, especially those newly immigrated to Australia, as this age bracket and the under 5 year olds are the most vulnerable to severe health outcomes from TB. Gaining an additional x-ray machine meant that two schools from Pipalyatjara and Pukatja communities could be screened simultaneously. It's always wonderful to see the use of NCCTRC equipment and personnel in effective health management, no matter the location of those in need,” she said.

Michelle Brigham And Misha Richards Preparing Xray Machine For Screenings Juno Eadie

“This project supports the APY Lands and the Anangu people to access the same level of healthcare available in the cities, and provides further opportunity for SA Health and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation to come together with community to work on strategies in facing communicable disease,"


Xray Arriving In Alice Springs Ahead Of Project Misha Richards

“It was a particularly special experience as we were able to share resources, knowledge and experiences from a previous deployment to assist with TB screening in Timor-Leste, and carry this over to continue an effective health response domestically.”

Ms Richards similarly assisted with a TB screening project in Timor-Leste in late 2022 in partnership with the Menzies School of Health Research and Timor-Leste’s National Tuberculosis (TB) Program, utilising the same mobile x-ray machine.

“SA Health Aboriginal Public Health had learned of my experience with the prevalence survey, and when it looked like there were more TB cases on the Lands, they got in touch to hear of my experience and learn what had been done previously.

“X-rays were only utilised for individuals who had a positive response to a skin test, and for those cases who were being followed-up after some time on treatment. This differed from the project in Timor-Leste, which provided screening of the broader population, but was due to the age of the population being screened. Further screening in communities will utilise x-ray as a primary screening tool.”

Misha said the deployment assisting SA Health was particularly special as it demonstrated the commitment AUSMAT has not only to our Indo-Pacific neighbours, but also within our national community.

“It has been wonderful to see the level of community engagement while providing screening services in Pipalyatjara and Pukatja, and witnessing the whole operation embody a community led approach to Aboriginal health,

“I'm really proud to work with AUSMAT and NCCTRC, this experience has demonstrated the core values of the organisation, ensuring the community is put first in all health responses. Providing the mobile x-ray and additional resources has been a continuation of this sentiment.”

AUSMAT; Australian Medical Assistance Team; NCCTRC; National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre

Gabrielle Lyons
Communications and Digital Engagement Officer

Gabrielle joined the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre in 2021 as Communications and Digital Engagement Officer, supporting media requests, social media coverage and operational requirements for NCCTRC and AUSMAT while on deployment. Gabrielle comes to the NCCTRC with substantial experience as a radio and digital journalist, most recently producing for ABC’s flagship program Radio National Drive with Patricia Karvelas and supporting Afternoon Briefing on ABC News 24, a program dedicated to current affairs and political analysis. Gabrielle specialises in Asia-Pacific politics and human interest feature writing. Beyond Australian borders, Gabrielle has also co-created and hosted an international travel podcast, which was nominated for Best Australian Podcast of 2019. You can follow Gabrielle on Twitter @gj_lyons