MEDICAL students from Deakin University’s Rural Community Clinical School have discussed public health issues facing the region.
More than 30 people attended a public forum in Stawell and heard from two key speakers – Madeline Moss and Haseeb Rayhan.
Ms Moss explored teen pregnancy across the Northern Grampians shire.
Ms Moss said her findings showed 19.7 of 1000 girls fell pregnant between the age of 15 to 19 in the Northern Grampians shire – higher than the rates in Ararat, which were eight in every 1000 girls, and Horsham with 17 in every 1000 girls. The rate of teen pregnancy in Melbourne is about two in every 1000 girls, her data showed.
Ms Moss said more education was needed to lower teen pregnancy.
“Update the sexual education offered at the school with an emphasis on locally available pregnancy and contraception-related services,” she said.
“I’d also aim to include teens in designing their sexual education curriculum so we can target their specific gaps in knowledge.”
Ms Moss said accessibility to services and information was also an issue.
“Providing medical services related to pregnancy and contraception in a more accessible way could decrease the statistics,” she said.
Ms Moss said she chose the topic because she was passionate about women’s health and the health of young people.
“In the local area, there are limited pregnancy services available,” she said.
“My concern was that young people were becoming pregnant and/or proceeding with that pregnancy because they had no other choice or didn’t know how to avoid it.”
Mr Rayhan is spending the third year of his a medical degree at Stawell Regional Health.
He said his study involved water-borne infections from swimming pools.
He said these infections were not an issue for people in the Northern Grampians shire, but had affected people in other regional Victorian towns.
“The most interesting piece of information I found was Northern Grampians shire has been relatively protected from Cryptosporidium – the main parasite in my presentation – while neighbouring regions like Pyrenees have been worse off with several more cases,” he said.
Mr Rayhan suggested greater awareness of the infection was needed.
“These messages could be heard more by handing out flyers to parents at GP clinics and/or integrate the message into swimming lessons when children first enrol,” he said.
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