Federal funding for preventive and public health projects

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Health minister Greg Hunt has announced $27 million in funding from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for 22 preventive and public health projects. 

Mr Hunt said the new research will focus on vulnerable groups, mothers, babies and children, with a focus on improving diet, nutrition and physical activity.

One of the projects will look at using telehealth to address developmental impairments in very preterm babies as well as their parents’ wellbeing.

Every year approximately 5,000 babies are born in Australia very preterm – at less than 32 weeks. Many of them will go on to have developmental impairments in later childhood, such as motor, cognitive or academic difficulties.

"A great concern is that parents of preterm infants can have high rates of anxiety and depression and this can also affect child development," said Mr Hunt, adding intervention in the first year of life is the best chance of avoiding long-term disabilities.

The University of Melbourne will receive more than $1.8 million to trial the remote ‘tele-rehabilitation’ service over the internet.

Mr Hunt said telehealth services have helped 8 million Australians receive health care and advice during the COVID-19 pandemic. GPs have provided more than 13.5 million telehealth services.

"Our Government is profoundly committed to strengthening and expanding access to life-saving services," added Mr Hunt.