Australians diagnosed with lymphoedema now have greater access to therapeutic compression garments, thanks to investments from the Morrison Government and South Australian Marshall Government.
The Morrison Government has committed $2 million a year for lymphoedema support at the National level. That funding will begin immediately and be ongoing, while the Marshall Liberal Government will also provide almost $2.5 million over the next two years.
The federal funding will be used to boost state and territory schemes to subsidise compression garments for lymphoedema, and contribute to establish schemes in South Australia and Western Australia, while the State Government funding will be focussed on delivering better services closer to home.
Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said after extensive consultations, all states and territories agreed on outputs for the funding, which “represent a significant step towards a nationally consistent approach to this important issue.”
“Lymphoedema is a chronic condition characterised by swelling of certain parts of the body, usually a limb, caused by problems with the lymphatic system,” Minister Hunt said.
“Often the disease develops as a result of damage to the lymphatic system during treatment for cancer.
“Approximately 20 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer will develop lymphoedema. The figures may be similar for other cancers including melanoma, gynaecological or prostate cancers.”
While there is currently no cure for the condition, it can be managed with appropriate intervention.
Prescribed compression garments are the primary treatment for many patients, reducing the build-up of fluids in affected limbs, and supporting and improving circulation to these limbs.
South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said this was the first time a Lymphoedema Compression Garment Subsidy Scheme had been offered to South Australians.
“The Marshall Liberal Government has a strong focus on providing better services closer to home, and this scheme is helping us to deliver on that promise to South Australians,” Minister Wade said.
“The scheme will provide ongoing, sustainable access for eligible individuals to receive up to two sets of ready-to-wear or custom made garments, every six months.
“We know lymphoedema compression garments can reduce the development of associated complications and improve health outcomes for people living with the condition.
“Using these garments can also decrease the need for unnecessary admission to acute services, for people living with lymphoedema.
“This will be tremendously beneficial for people who require these specialised compression garments to help manage their condition, enabling both greater independence at home and the ability to be an active part of the community.”
The Lympoedema Compression Garment Subsidy Scheme was established by Wellbeing SA and is funded by the Department for Health and Wellbeing, with additional funds through an agreement with the Commonwealth.
The Scheme has been developed in collaboration with Local Health Networks, clinical experts, and community members with expert insight and lived experience.
Further information about the subsidy scheme for compression garments and allied health therapy can be obtained from state and territory health departments.
For more information on eligibility and how to access the scheme, people living with lymphoedema should speak with their GP or treating clinician.