Thousands of Australian cancer patients needing life-saving bone marrow donations are being impacted by a donor registry system that has not kept pace with international standards.
The matter is personal for Queensland independent MP Bob Katter since his nephew Liam O'Brien, 40, was diagnosed with leukaemia six months ago.
Responding to a question from Mr Katter about why the bone marrow donor registry had shrunk, Health Minister Mark Butler said Australia had not kept up with international standards to increase donor numbers.
The independent called for the introduction of at-home cheek swab postal kits to allow prospective donors to submit their DNA easily, simply and quickly for analysis and inclusion on the registry.
Mr Butler agreed cheek swabs were used by other nations as an effective and economical way of adding donors to the registry, but said that screening process was not available in Australia.
He wants to bring Australia's medical technology up to speed with other nations and increase the number of bone marrow donors.
"Australia has not moved fast enough to enable more effective matching of bone marrow donors with patients," he said.
"Part of the problem is that no single government - between the Commonwealth and the states and territories - has sole responsibility or sole authority to make sure Australia keeps pace with the rest of the world and makes advances in technology."
Mr Butler said too much "jurisdictional, bureaucratic red tape" was impacting patients.
He promised to work with his state and territory counterparts and secure an agreement to progress medical technology available in Australia.
"I am writing to health ministers to seek their agreement ... to do everything we can to clear what is currently denying patients in Australia the best chance to access this life-saving technology," he said.
Australian Associated Press
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