IMPACTS NOW AND INTO THE FUTURE
This impact report presents 12 case studies showing the impacts from the first three years of the HOT NORTH program.
In addition to the capacity-building and knowledge translation impacts from the HOT NORTH program (showcased by the personal stories in the later sections of this report), on-ground health improvements have been achieved through changes to policy and practice from our activities. Impacts will continue to accrue into the future as more recommendations from HOT NORTH’s research outputs are adopted by the health sector.
Ultimately, the connections among researchers, practitioners, and communities, facilitated by the HOT NORTH program, may be one of the most important legacies of the program. HOT NORTH has shown that there is an underutilised capacity for sharing culturally and geographically appropriate learnings across borders, across the urban-regional divide and across disciplines and hierarchies.
Some examples of the impacts from the first four years of the HOT NORTH program to date:
- The Plasmodium knowlesi malaria research, by Matt Grigg and team, changed Malaysian national treatment policy and provided the evidence base for updated WHO Global guidelines and Australian malaria treatment guidelines. HOT NORTH co-funded a randomized trial that found artemether-lumefantrine (AL) to be a highly efficacious treatment. Its excellent tolerability and rapid patient response has led to faster recovery time and earlier hospital discharge.
- The Communicate study led by Anna Ralph increased access to Aboriginal language interpreters at Royal Darwin Hospital. Within its first year of intervention, there was a significant decrease in self-discharge rates for Aboriginal inpatients during that time.
- Mosquito-borne virus surveillance methods, developed by HOT NORTH investigators in Scott Ritchie’s Queensland group, are now used by multiple State and Commonwealth authorities to monitor for incursions of Murray Valley and Japanese encephalitis viruses.
- Child lung health communication tools developed by Pam Laird in Western Australia have begun to reverse the “normalisation” of chronic wet cough among clinicians across northern Australia, resulting in important improvements in quality of care for children at risk of bronchiectasis.
- Healthy skin research, such as the SToP trial led by Asha Bowen has resulted in the National Healthy Skin Guideline, a new tool now widely used across the remote health sector to prevent and manage skin infections.
- The HOTspots surveillance system, developed by Teresa Wozniak with colleagues across the three northern jurisdictions, enables health workers and policy makers to access real-time data on antimicrobial resistance patterns, supporting more rational and strategic use of antibiotics.
- The HOT NORTH Diabetes in Youth collaboration, led by Louise Maple-Brown, has become a strong advocate for better prevention and care. Clinicians and health providers across the Kimberley, Northern Territory and Far North Queensland report that engagement with the HOT NORTH collaboration has led to a marked increase in screening and diagnosis for Type 2 diabetes in people under 25, with Darwin-based paediatric and adult endocrinologists receiving more referrals for young people diagnosed with the condition.