New Centre for Antarctic, Remote and Maritime Medicine

Dr Jeff Ayton (second left) explains some of the medical equipment used at Antarctic stations to the Tasmanian Minister for Health, Michael Ferguson (left), while doctors from the Antarctic Divisionís Polar Medicine Unit, Roland Watzl and Clive Strauss look on.
Dr Jeff Ayton (second left) explains some of the medical equipment used at Antarctic stations to the Tasmanian Minister for Health, Michael Ferguson (left), while doctors from the Antarctic Divisionís Polar Medicine Unit, Roland Watzl and Clive Strauss look on. (Photo: Simon Payne)

Highly specialised medical skills honed in the extreme Antarctic environment will be shared through a new Centre for Antarctic, Remote and Maritime Medicine (CARMM), based at the Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart.

The Centre is a partnership between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments and the University of Tasmania. It will draw on expert knowledge developed by the Australian Antarctic Program to inform medical care providers in other remote and maritime settings across Australia.

Chief Medical Officer of the Antarctic Division’s Polar Medicine Unit, Dr Jeff Ayton, said his team has developed a unique remote healthcare system over decades.

“Our doctors provide support for expeditioners up to 5500 kilometres away on Australian Antarctic stations and on ships plying the Southern Ocean,” Dr Ayton said.

“We use advanced telehealth systems for remote diagnosis and treatment of patients, for example we are able to monitor the vital signs of an ill expeditioner from back here in Hobart.

“We also have a well-established network of specialists in Tasmania and around the country to support healthcare delivery.

“CARMM will bring all this acquired knowledge together to help provide highly specialised care in other isolated and extreme environments, such as off-shore islands and remote communities.”

Professor Ben Canny from the University of Tasmania said, through the College of Health and Medicine, CARMM will provide accredited training and education pathways for generalist health practitioners.

“This year we are starting a new Graduate Certificate in Healthcare in Remote and Extreme Environments, a one-stop shop to up-skill medical professionals for care-giving in remote areas,” he said.

Read more on the CARMM website.

Nisha Harris