Dr Edward Koch Foundation
The Dr Edward Koch Foundation is a non-profit organisation established in March 1997 to promote organisations and activities that alleviate ill health in North Queensland. The objectives of the Foundation are to improve health and well being of North Queenslanders, conduct health research and development projects, promote and initiate preventive and educational health programs, and link with other groups with similar objectives in far North Queensland. Since its inception, the Foundation has continued to pursue its mission and has focused on projects that enhance health and well-being at a population level.
The Foundationís Board of Directors consists of local community and business leaders, and representatives from the University of Queensland, the Tropical Public Health Unit, Qld Health and the Cairns Division of General Practice.
CURRENT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS.
Irukandji Research Project
A research program, headed by Dr James Seymour, James Cook University, has been set up to resolve the many issues surrounding the annual influx of several species of dangerous jellyfish, and their impact on the North Queensland community. The aim of the research is to identify which jellyfish are responsible for irukandji syndrome, how to minimise the risk of exposure, how to identify those at risk for the severe form of the syndrome, and how best to treat those affected. An unprecedented invasion of the tiny irukandji, which can pass through the stinger-resistant enclosures, has become an health issue for North Queensland. The project focuses on both intermediate and long term solutions to alleviate the public threat imposed by these marine stingers.
Ciguatera poisoning in North Queensland
The Foundation, together with the University of Queenslandís National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology, commenced a ciguatera poisoning research project in September 2001. Ciguatera poisoning poses a constant public health risk in the tropics. It is produced by the presence of ciguatoxin in the flesh of edible fish species, including coral trout and Spanish mackerel, that are commonly caught by both recreational and commercial fishers in tropical waters. The presence of the toxin cannot be detected by taste, odour or visual means and at present no rapid cost-effective procedure exists for determining its presence in fish at point of capture or sale. The research project will assess current incidence of human ciguatera poisoning and try to develop a test to determine if fish have the ciguatoxin. Survey and research work is being conducted by a PhD student from James Cook University.
Japanese Encephalitis Surveillance
The Dr Edward Koch Foundation has sponsored several studies on mosquito-borne diseases. Currently, the Tropical Public Health Unitís Medical Entomology section (Scott Ritchie, Brian Montgomery), in collaboration with the Foundation, is conducting studies designed to improve our ability to monitor for Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in the Torres Strait and Cape York.
FNQ Taskforce for the Prevention of Suicide
The goals of the taskforce are to implement, support and promote strategies which aim at the reduction of suicide and self-harm. Research and activities are carried out under the auspices of the Foundation and its Executive Officer is the chair of the Taskforce Committee.
THE FOUNDATION PLAYS AN ACTIVE ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY BY CONDUCTING EDUCATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAMS SUCH AS INFORMATIVE SEMINARS AND EXHIBITIONS AND BY SETTING ASIDE DAYS FOR ACTIVE COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT. LISTED BELOW ARE A VARIETY OF THE ACTIVITIES OF THE FOUNDATION.
Public Health Seminars
In conjunction with the University of Queensland and the Tropical Public Health Unit, the Foundation holds periodical health seminars. Prominent academics present findings of their research on health related issues for educational purposes and dissemination of reports.
Far North & Far More Healthy (100 Years Since Dr Koch) Exhibition
The Exhibition focuses on 100 years of health history in north Queensland. It commemorates Dr Edward Koch, a Cairns resident and pioneer of tropical medicine who was one of the first to recognise the ground-breaking causal link between malaria and mosquitoes. Dr Koch died in 1901, so his death marks the beginning of a new century in tropical health achievements, research and management in North Queensland. The Exhibition is aimed at giving members of the community pride in the fascinating medical achievements of health professionals in the region over the last 100 years and an insight into diseases and health threats that face them every day. This very informative annual health Exhibition including a large art competition has been held for the last 3 years, and is planned for August 2003.
Exhibits have an educational value reinforcing healthy practices and explaining the reasoning behind health treatments for ailments such as box jelly fish stings, snakebite, skin cancer prevention and mosquito-borne disease avoidance.
The innovative idea of marrying art with public health and linking it to one of the richest art competitions in Far North Queensland offers encouragement to local artists and the art and cultural industry in general.
The Exhibition acknowledges the important role of indigenous people in helping non-indigenous Australians to understand the health challenges posed by the tropical environment. The exchange of knowledge in both art and medicines encourages indigenous and non-indigenous Australians to work together, thus increasing community awareness and understanding of our regionís diverse cultures while fostering cross cultural interaction.
Koch for Kids Festival
This annual festival invites children with disabilities to enjoy a hands-on day of creative fun Ė potting plants, hand-painting, 10-pin bowling, face-painting, patting little animals from the Animal Nursery, rides in the Little Fire Truck, gymnastics, etc. Food, drinks and crafts are also available. Everything is free for the children and their families. Participation by all children is our goal and each child attending is expected to go home with a new interest and memories of a wonderful day.
THE FOUNDATION HAS AVAILABLE RESOURCE FACILITIES FOR PUBLIC USE AND DISTRIBUTES OTHER HEALTH EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL.
The Dr Edward Koch Foundation Resource Unit
This Unit has been set up with journal articles, books, reports, pamphlets, brochures and publications on various health related subjects. It covers a wide variety of areas including youth suicide, substance abuse, infant feeding and nutrition and accidents and injury. Material from the Heart Foundation, University of Queensland and the Indigenous Health Program have been donated.
The Unit is open from Monday to Friday and is for use by students, health professionals, counselors and other interested community members.
Far North and Far More Healthy Book
In mid-1996, the Queensland Minister for Health launched a new publication: Far North and Far More Healthy. It was designed to educate Far North Queenslanders about tropical health issues and risks and ensure that visitors are made aware of safety needs and potential hazards. Queensland Health has since transferred the copyright for this publication to the Dr Edward Koch Foundation to ensure the ongoing marketing and distribution of Far North and Far More Healthy. Profits from sales are used on Foundation projects aimed at preventing disease and improving health for the people of North Queensland.
Healthy Weight Program
The Healthy Weight Program is a weight management and healthy lifestyle program targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in rural, remote and urban communities. The program was developed by the Tropical Public Health Unit nutrition teams in Cairns and Townsville as a primary prevention intervention to address the high incidence of diabetes and other lifestyle diseases among North Queensland indigenous adults. The Dr Edward Koch Foundation has taken over responsibility for the distribution and reproduction of the resource kit for the Healthy Weight Program.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating has been developed to help Australians choose a healthy diet using a variety of foods. The advice in this kit, which is primarily concerned with physical health, applies to most people. Its purpose is to provide information about the kinds of foods to choose in your diet each day.
THE FOUNDATION HAS BEEN INVOLVED WITH OTHER PAST ACTIVITIES AND PROJECTS.
The Suicide Prevention Handbook FNQ Edition was the Foundationís first project. The book covers recommendations for intervention in suicidal behaviour. It also provides a list of local service providers and an account of the facts and the myths of suicide. 3,000 copies were printed and distributed. The FNQ Taskforce for the Prevention of Youth Suicide is continuing with the printing of this book.
The Foundation funded the Deliberate Self Harm project which was carried out by James Cook University to gather information on adolescents who deliberately engage in self harming activities.
Following this trial, a revised form and a simplified procedure which will allow for ongoing monitoring, research and program evaluations of self-harm in Far North Queensland communities was prepared. The hope is that such a form and procedure can provide for the first time, an accurate picture of the nature and extent of self-harm in Far North Queensland.
In August 1999, the Foundation ran a very successful Nutrition Networks Conference. 130 health workers from around Australia and from as far away as the Solomon Islands came to address nutrition issues and delivery of food and nutrition health services.
Dr Scott Ritchie, Medical Entomologist at the Tropical Public Health Unit, Qld Health was the principal investigator in a Dengue Fever Field Trial aimed at testing the efficacy of household insecticides against the Aides Egypti mosquito, the carrier of dengue fever. The study involved collecting mosquitoes inside the house using a vacuum aspirator. For houses where mosquitoes were collected, a second collection was made within a week. Homeowners were then given either bug zappers or a can of fly spray, along with instructions for their use. Within a day, resampling for mosquitoes was done to see if the insecticide was effective. Residents of North Queensland are particularly at risk because of the climate and the increasing number of visitors who have travelled in countries where dengue fever occurs. Thus, the Foundation is committed to ensuring that the virus is not spread by using prevention as the best protection against mosquito borne diseases.
The Foundation acts as an administration body to aid projects and activities. These include the Dengue Fever Symposium, the Well Personís Health Check, Evidence-based Clinical Practice in Diabetes Care, the Qld Health Immunisation project and Pacific Rim Safe Communities Project.
Dr Edward Koch Foundation
Level 1, 6 Aplin Street
Cairns, QLD 4870
Ph: 07 40310145
Fax: 07 40310744
ABN: 19 078 012 576 DGR: Yes
Phone 07 40310145 for details
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