The Palaszczuk Government must end the postcode lottery and immediately fund screening programs to protect Queensland babies born with spinal muscular atrophy in next week’s State Budget.
Currently, babies born in New South Wales, Western Australia and the ACT are screened for SMA at birth and Victoria has just agreed to do the same, saving countless lives.
But in Queensland, families are suffering enormous heartache when a simple test could save their babies’ lives.
I have personally been raising this issue on behalf of these Queensland families since I was elected as the Member for Toowoomba North.
We must not let another baby suffer or die from SMA when this tragic outcome is completely preventable with early detection through screening at birth.
Almost 15,000 Queenslanders have signed a petition and another 500 have sent letters to the Health Minister pleading with her to fund this program.
The Australian Medical Association of Queensland which has been advocating for this funding since 2019, stated in last year’s budget submission that it would only cost around $700,000 to make the program a reality with the test costing the system just $10.
Spinal muscular atrophy is the leading genetic cause of death in infants under the age of two. If detected at birth and treated, children born with SMA can live a relatively healthy life.
But if not picked up at birth, the baby’s loss of motor neurons and muscle wasting can never be reversed, and most succumb to the disease before the age of four.
The Minister must start listening to these families and she must act now to protect more babies’ lives.
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