Media Release: Dr Jeanette Young

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young

Mount Isa already has an extensive free blood lead level testing program available for residents.

Free blood lead level testing has been available since 2010 for all residents through QML and funded by Glencore Mount Isa Mines.

Blood lead level testing of children under five also has been undertaken at Mount Isa Hospital since August 2014.

These programs have been well-publicised.

In September 2016, finger prick testing for blood lead levels also was introduced in Mount Isa to supplement the existing free venous blood lead tests that are available through QML and Mount Isa Hospital.

Finger prick testing is currently being offered at four sites in Mount Isa, which are Gidgee Healing, Sonic Health Plus–Mount Isa GP Super Clinic, the North West Hospital and Health Service Child Health Services and the North West HHS Paediatric Outpatients.

This form of testing is quicker and much less invasive than venous blood testing and allows greater participation of young children, thereby broadening the testing base.

The aim is to offer testing at the same time as giving immunisations – at ages 6 months, 12 months, 18 months and 3½ years, but children can still be tested up to five years of age.

Thanks to the various education and intervention programs in place, it is pleasing to note that the current blood lead level testing programs in Mount Isa indicate average blood lead levels recorded in tested children under five are falling gradually since the initial children’s blood lead level survey in 2006-2007.

These results indicate that the lead health management programs and strategies we have put in place are having a positive impact and the Mount Isa Lead Health Management Committee will continue building on these.