Japanese encephalitis vaccination drive continues across Top End West communities

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Japanese encephalitis vaccination drive continues across Top End West communities

Over 400 vaccinations against Japanese encephalitis have been delivered across NT’s Top End West communities through funding by NT PHN.

In a collaboration between NT PHN, NT Health and key stakeholders, nurses and health workers have travelled across the Top End West to promote and administer JEV vaccinations within the local communities.

Japanese encephalitis (JEV) is caused by mosquitoes bites infected with the disease. JEV can lead to inflammation of the brain and can result in brain damage or even death. It is endemic to the Torres Strait and Top End region of Australia.

The Top End West district is home to nearly 4000 residents, including the communities of Nauiyu, Palumpa, Peppimenarti and Wadeye.

Nurses and health workers preparing to board a charter to the Top End West region

Wadeye stands out as one of the biggest Indigenous communities in the NT, with half the district’s population residing there. This region is also linguistically diverse, with Murrinh-Patha being the most widely spoken language and acting as a lingua franca among the Indigenous population.

The vaccination campaign commenced with a 2-day visit to Nauiyu and Emu Point, followed by a 3-day coverage in the Palumpa community and neighbouring outstations like Papanala, Merepen, Nemarluk and Nama. In the second week, they visited the community of Peppimentarti and plan to reach Wadeye in December.

Accessibility to these areas becomes a significant challenge during the wet season, as the regions are only accessible via plane due to regular flooding that renders roads impassable.

Amber Walton, NT PHN’s primary health development coordinator, emphasised the importance of reaching vulnerable populations before travel by vehicles are cut off.

“It’s vital to get out to these regions before the wet season kicks into high gear,” said Amber Walton. “Mosquitoes are carriers of Japanese encephalitis, and there’s an increased risk during the rainy season when their population surges.”

Another crucial part of the campaign also includes education.

Health promotion activities are being conducted to inform the community about the effects of Japanese encephalitis and its potential health consequences.

The JEV vaccination program was funded by NT PHN.

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