Publish date 27 October 2022
The ABC’s Sophie Scott and Stephanie Dalzell recently spoke with Emerge Australia’s CEO, Anne Wilson, as part of their story on the Federal Governments underfunding of Long COVID in Australia.
Health authorities around the world are spending billions on tackling Long COVID, with innovative research projects for new treatments and comprehensive patient support.
In Australia, things are a little different.
COVID-19, for some Australians, has become a thing of the past, or, at least, something they’d like to forget.
Yet, the disease is still impacting thousands everyday.
And because of this, Tuesday night’s budget plugged billions ($2.6 billion to be exact) into the country’s response.
According to the government, the funding will, predominantly, ensure continued supplies of personal protective equipment and access to vaccines and treatments for at-risk cohorts.
Yet there was one missing element: There was nothing allocated for long COVID, or other post-viral conditions such as Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) — a debilitating post-viral condition with many similarities to Long COVID.
Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John said the lack of specific funding was “disappointing”. “Long COVID is impacting so many in our Australian community right now — it is a debilitating illness,” he said. “What is needed from the government is urgent action. That urgent action was nowhere to be seen in the budget.”
Emerge Australia is the peak body for ME/CFS. Chief executive [officer] Anne Wilson said patients with Long COVID and ME/CFS would suffer due to a funding shortfall.
“In the last 12 months, we have had more than 2,000 people with ME/CFS and Long COVID access our patient support and education from our nurses,” she said. “But this service is now at risk because of a lack of funds. That means patients are at risk of getting zero support for these conditions.”
A parliamentary inquiry into Long COVID is underway, stakeholders have until the middle of November to make submissions.
To ensure continuation of the Telehealth and patient support services