Funding hope for Baryulgil
By EMMA CORNFORD
MORE than a third of Baryulgil residents who underwent CAT scans after abnormalities were discovered during lung tests appear to be suffering from some form of asbestos-related disease.
The Bulgarrngaru Aboriginal Medical Centre practitioner, Dr Ray Jones, said there were now 22 residents diagnosed with asbestoses and related diseases.
"It's gradually climbing. The number of people affected has risen by four or five in the past couple of months," Dr Jones said.
"We detected one girl with a tumour on her lung and had that removed (but) one fellow has since passed away due to asbestos-related disease."
The numbers are worrying, but at least affected residents may benefit from a study into ongoing health care for asbestos victims, if the medical centre receives funding from a Federal Government grant.
"We've applied for funding ... along with a Western Australian medical centre which was close to an asbestos mine, with James Cook University actually doing the study," Dr Jones said.
"We had 230 people screened (on the lung bus) and they're all at significant risk. Even if they show nothing now there's a good chance they might in five to 10 years so we want to follow it up and give them a long-term health plan to monitor their lung conditions."
Dr Jones said the centre would find out in around a month if it was successful with their grant application.
"We have a reasonable chance because Baryulgil was one of the worst areas for asbestos-related exposure," he said.
"There were a number of people exposed with the poor work practices in the mines, but the whole community was exposed as well."
Dr Jones said the grant would give staff at the centre the chance to continue monitoring Baryulgil residents affected by asbestos.
"From a health care point of view, the grant will mean we'll have the chance to look at what we've done so far and evaluate what we've done because right now we don't have the staff or facilities," he said.
"It means we'll be able to work with these people and provide some sort of regime to monitor their health."