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Joint venture: Royal Flying Doctor Service general manager of nursing and primary health care, Gabrielle West, with Karara Mining CEO Steve Murdoch, inside a RFDS Pilatus PC12
BEN CRABTREE/THE WEST AUSTRALIAN Joint venture: Royal Flying Doctor Service general manager of nursing and primary health care, Gabrielle West, with Karara Mining CEO Steve Murdoch, inside a RFDS Pilatus PC12

Karara Mining Limited has announced a major joint venture with the Royal Flying Doctor Service for a $1.75 million mobile Mid West dental and primary healthcare clinic.

In addition Karara will now make seats on its fly-in fly-out charters available to RFDS staff and has offered to accommodate them in rooms at its mine village.

The state-of-the-art mobile clinic — which will be purchased and equipped by KML and operated by the RFDS — will operate across Mid West shires which have been closely involved with Karara iron ore mine.

A first of its kind venture, the key focus of the mobile clinic will be the provision of mobile dental healthcare services.

“Access to oral healthcare is a key issue in the Mid West region and other parts of regional WA, as poor dental health can often lead to other diseases and poor general health,” said RFDS general manager nursing and primary health care, Gabrielle West.

“In these small, remote locations access to health care is limited and dental services have often not been available.”

KML’s chief executive, Steve Murdoch, said that KML had committed to underwrite the purchase of the clinic, at an estimated of about $450,000, as well as to underwrite the ongoing operating costs of the clinic, which are estimated at $260,000 per annum.

This amounts to a total commitment of approximately $1.75 million over five years, subject to completing detailed planning and receipt of tenders for the mobile unit and finalising estimated operating costs with the RFDS, which will be responsible for operating the service.

KML and the RFDS will work together to secure additional funding to contribute towards the operating costs of the unit, including the potential to access Royalties for Regions funding through the Mid West Development Commission.

KML will also continue to engage with local shires and other Mid West companies to secure contributions towards the recurrent funding requirements of this service.

The mobile clinic will be mounted on an approximate eight-tonne truck and will comprise a fully-equipped dental clinic and mobile primary healthcare clinic.

It will be stored at the Karara Village when not on the road.

In addition, KML has agreed to make its regular KML fly-in, fly-out charter service to site available to RFDS personnel.

If required, RFDS personnel can also be accommodated at Karara Village.

Mr Murdoch said the provision of improved dental healthcare services across the Mid West had the potential to make a significant and very positive impact on the health of communities across the region, with good dental healthcare an important preventative healthcare measure.

“This is a tremendous initiative for KML to become involved in which builds on our recently-launched Community Health Fund,” Mr Murdoch said.

“We are serious about contributing to the ongoing health of the community in the region and this is a very practical and direct way for us to make a difference, in partnership with the RFDS.”

Ms West, said that for many years, the RFDS has been conscious of the need for more fly-in, fly-out dental services in remote communities where poor dental hygiene and lack of treatment can lead to a range of serious medical conditions, such as infection and heart disease.

“A focus of the program will be on education and encouraging people, including children, to adopt good oral hygiene practices to help prevent more serious conditions arising in future,” she said.