Lyme disease enquiry offers hope
A SENATE enquiry into the existence of Lyme disease in Australia has brought a glimmer of hope to thousands of Australians suffering from symptoms mimicking the debilitating tick-borne illness.
The enquiry was established this week by Victorian Senator John Madigan, and co-sponsored by the entire cross-bench as well as Nationals Senator Bridgette McKenzie.
Impact of disease
Lyme Disease Association of Australia president Sharon Whiteman said she hoped the enquiry would reveal the impact of the disease on Australians, and motivate health authorities to take bold action.
"We know the Department of Health has the power to prioritise Lyme disease as a medical emergency and encourage researchers to take up the cause," Ms Whiteman said.
"It needs to be a very aggressive, well-rounded approach now after 20 years of denial."
The existence of Lyme in Australia has been consistently refuted by the medical establishment due to a lack of evidence, despite the Federal Health Department forming a Clinical Advisory Committee in 2014 which identified a lack of stringency in local testing procedures.
Since then, the Lyme community has turned its attention to politicians, with a successful grass roots campaign to mail 22,000 signed Lyme-themed postcards to Canberra a key initiative.
Moving politicians to action
Ms Whiteman said Senator Madigan had been moved to action by a Victorian patient whose symptoms had regressed after their doctor was banned from continuing their treatment.
'We've consistently continued to reach out to politicians to make sure they knew the situation for Lyme patients," Ms Whiteman said.
"The situation is dire.
"It's illogical and unscientific to have a view that Lyme doesn't exist in Australia when there's been no serious research done in 20 years."
"We've proven the testing is inadequate, so you can't build an evidence base if the testing is not there."
In a statement Senator Madigan said he hoped the inquiry would "put the issue on the radar nationally" and take a step closer to providing answers for patients suffering Lyme-like symptoms.