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Spartan First Imaging, Australia's first Indigenous medical imaging service, aims to close the health gap

Giovanni Torre -

Spartan First and TeleMed Health Services have announced the establishment of Spartan First Imaging (SFI), Australia's first Indigenous medical imaging service (radiology & nuclear medicine).

Spartan First Imaging noted in a statement on Monday that while transformative advancements in medical imaging technology are revolutionising healthcare globally, access to these technologies is not universal.

"Nowhere is this more apparent than in rural and remote regions of Australia, where healthcare inequality results in widening of the gap. SFI's vision is to confront this gap head-on through innovative and technological healthcare strategies," the new service said.

SFI's pioneering facility will be situated in Kalgoorlie-Boulder supporting the existing internationally recognised nuclear medicine service founded by TeleMed Health. This will be followed by the introduction of a comprehensive suite of diagnostic modalities.

Pending regulatory approvals, the Kalgoorlie-Boulder site will serve as the launching pad for a proposed mobile PET/CT and theranostics service, catering to the diverse needs of remote communities across Western Australia.

Founder and clinical lead Pete Tually is a past recipient of the WA Business News 40- under-40 award and recently honoured as Pioneer Lecturer at the 2023 ANZSNM national conference.

Mr Tually, a PhD researcher and nuclear medicine practitioner, told National Indigenous Times the collaboration aimed to help close the gap in health care.

"I have worked in rural health for more than 25 years with a strong emphasis on assisting Indigenous patients particular in cancer and heart disease," he said.

"Sadly, over the years there has been a worsening in mortality and morbidity rates. It has always been an aspiration to work more closely with Indigenous communities to improve access to advanced medical imagining technologies

"Eight months ago, serendipity occurred at an AFL game, and through that sports intervention there was a meeting of the minds and a great opportunity to learn about Spartan, and we saw we could work together to try to create greater collaboration between my organisation and their team to help reduce the gap that exists in healthcare."

Mr Tually said he wanted to make sure the most advanced therapies were available to all.

"In my area of medicine, nuclear medicine, there are new therapies known as theranostics, a new era of precision medicine, and WA leads the world in theranostics in many respects. It helps treat prostate cancer, breast cancer and other type of cancer. My concern is that it would only be accessible in metropolitan areas," he told National Indigenous Times.

"We have come up with a model to get these new advanced therapies to remote communities. Kalgoorlie is the most remote nuclear medical practice in the world and it serves as the spiritual launch pad to get these therapies up into the Pilbara, the Mid-West and beyond.

"We are also bringing new technologies into Kalgoorlie… And we will be taking other types of therapies up into the bush as well."

Spartan First is an Indigenous owned, mainstream health services provider offering a wide range of health and wellbeing services to industry, government and community.

CEO Des Headland, a Nyoongar-Yamatji man, is well known for his achievements as an AFL player and since retiring from football he has been focussed creating, developing, and advocating for the Indigenous community.

"Advances in medical imaging are occurring at a rapid pace, and too often people in the regions miss out on accessing that in a timely fashion, our vision is to ensure that gaps between the haves and haves not is narrowing," he told National Indigenous Times.

"Particularly in cancer imaging and cancer therapy, where the advances in the specialty called theranostics means that people living with cancer have a much brighter future, and we wish to ensure that broader regional public and communities can access these benefits."

Mr Headland said Spartan First Imaging aims to "transcend geographical barriers and ensure that every individual, regardless of location, has access to state-of-the-art medical imaging services, paving the way for a healthier and more equitable future for all".

TeleMed, an award-winning social enterprise, has been the sole provider of nuclear medicine in remote locations of Western Australia, playing a pivotal role in narrowing the healthcare gap between metropolitan and regional areas. With a proud 25-year legacy in Kalgoorlie, we remain steadfast in our commitment to addressing health disparities by ensuring access to crucial access to nuclear oncology and cardiology services for rural populations.

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