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MJA/Wyeth Award 2003

Martin B Van Der Weyden
Med J Aust 2004; 181 (2): 58.
Published online: 19 July 2004

The MJA/Wyeth Award is awarded to the best research article published in the MJA each year, as judged by the Editors and Content Review Committee of the MJA. Prize money of $10,000 is donated by Wyeth Australia as part of its committment to encouraging excellence in clinical research.

The winners of the MJA/Wyeth Award since its inception are:

2003: Sophie Couzos, Traven Lea, Reinhold Mueller, Richard Murray and Margaret Culbong. Effectiveness of ototopical antibiotics for chronic suppurative otitis media in Aboriginal children: a community-based, multicentre, double-blind randomised controlled trial. Med J Aust 2003; 179: 185-190.

2002: Alan Cass, Anne Lowell, Michael Christie, Paul L Snelling, Melinda Flack, Betty Marrnganyin and Isaac Brown. Sharing the true stories: improving communication between Aboriginal patients and healthcare workers. Med J Aust 2002; 176: 466-470.

2001: Ian A Scott, Michael D Coory and Catherine M Harper. The effects of quality improvement interventions on inhospital mortality after acute myocardial infarction. Med J Aust 2001; 175: 465-470.

2000: Wendy E Hoy, Philip R Baker, Angela M Kelly and Zhiqiang Wang. Reducing premature death and renal failure in Australian Aboriginals: a community-based cardiovascular and renal protective program. Med J Aust 2000; 172: 473-478.

1999: Penny J Miller, Paul J Torzillo, Wayne Hateley. Impact of improved diagnosis and treatment on prevalence of gonorrhoea and chlamydial infection in remote Aboriginal communities on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands. Med J Aust 1999; 170: 429-432.

1998: Peter R Lewis, Michael J Hensley, John Wlodarczyk, Ruth C Toneguzzi, Victoria Westley-Wise, Trevor Dunn, Dennis Calvert. Outdoor air pollution and children's respiratory symptoms in steel cities of New South Wales. Med J Aust 1998; 169: 459-463.

1997: John W Kelly, Josephine M Yeatman, Cheryl Regalia, Grahame Mason, Amanda P Henham. A high incidence of melanoma found in patients with multiple dysplastic naevi by photographic surveillance. Med J Aust 1997; 167: 191-194.

1996: Jeffrey Hanna, Scott A Ritchie, Debra A Phillips, Jack Shield, M Clare Bailey, John S Mackenzie, M Poidinger, Bradley J McCall, Phillip J Mills. An outbreak of Japanese encephalitis in the Torres Strait, Australia, 1995. Med J Aust 1996; 165: 256-260.

1995: Susan M Pond, David J Lewis-Driver, Gail M Williams, Adele C Green, Noel W Stevenson. Gastric emptying in acute overdose: a prospective randomised controlled trial. Med J Aust 1995; 163: 345-351.

The 2003 MJA/Wyeth Award went to “Effectiveness of ototopical antibiotics for chronic suppurative otitis media in Aboriginal children: a community-based, multicentre, double-blind randomised controlled trial”, published in the 18 August 2003 issue of The Medical Journal of Australia.

Left to right: Dr Michael Lee — Medical Director, Wyeth Australia Pty Ltd; Mr Tony McCartney — Chair, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO); Dr Sophie Couzos; Mr Traven Lea; Dr Martin B Van Der Weyden, Editor, MJA.

At the recent AMA National Conference in Brisbane, Dr Sophie Couzos, the leader of the trial, and Mr Tony McCartney, Chair, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), accepted the Award's commemorative plaque from Dr Bill Glasson, AMA President, and a cheque for $10,000 from Dr Michael Lee, Medical Director, Wyeth Australia.

The trial (known as the NACCHO trial) investigators included Dr Sophie Couzos, Mr Traven Lea and Margaret Culbong, from NACCHO; Reinhold Mueller, from James Cook University, Townsville; and Dr Richard Murray, from the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council, Broome. The award was for their research into the effectiveness of antibiotics in Aboriginal children with otitis media.

Dr Sophie Couzos accepting the MJA/Wyeth Award.

Otitis media is a largely preventable problem, but remains a scourge of Aboriginal children. Among its potential consequences are hearing problems which have social, educational, and employment implications.

The research team looked at exploring the efficacy of ototopical ciprofloxacin compared with traditional topical aminoglycoside antibiotics. They found ciprofloxacin was more effective, and recommend that it be considered as front-line treatment.

Although the immediate dividend of their research is the clinical outcome, what is also important is that their research demonstrates that randomised controlled trials, which are always logistical nightmares, can be conducted in Aboriginal communities if the ownership belongs to these communities, and collaborating partners are Aboriginal organisations such as NACCHO.

AMA President Dr Bill Glasson and Mr Traven Lea.

In commenting on the research, Dr Michael Lee noted the award-winning MJA article opens with the following words: “Chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM) is a disease of poverty. It is very common among Australian Aboriginal children, with the prevalence exceeding the World Health Organization’s definition of a ‘massive’ public health problem”.

What set this winning published research apart was its relevance and timeliness to an area of health with an impact on many children across the country.

If improvements in Aboriginal health are to be sustained and are to approach those enjoyed by non-Indigenous Australians, there is a continuing need for research such as this to investigate the most effective ways to treat diseases to which the Aboriginal community are particularly susceptible.

  • Martin B Van Der Weyden

  • The Medical Journal of Australia

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