WHO in the News
Deep Vein Thrombosis
DVT families threaten to launch boycott Australia campaign
Families of victims of air-related deep vein thrombosis have threatened to launch a boycott Australia campaign if the Howard government does not contribute to an international health study into the so-called economy class syndrome. The threat was made to Prime Minister John Howard last week in a letter from Welsh woman Ruth Christoffersen, whose 28-year-old daughter Emma died at Heathrow two years ago after a flight from Australia.
Mrs Christoffersen urged Australia to pledge funds to the World Health Organisations research into DVT and air travel, or face a tourist backlash. The study aims to monitor 250,000 passengers to determine any link between long-haul travel and potentially fatal blood clots.
The United Kingdom and the European Union have contributed STG1.5 million ($A4.07 million) to the STG12 million ($A32.58 million) study. Mrs Christoffersen, a founding member of Victims of Air-Related DVT Association (VARDA), said it was time other countries kicked in some money.
It is in Australias interest to support such an initiative, otherwise it will discourage tourists from visiting your great country, Mrs Christoffersen wrote. If countries like yours continue to ignore this fatal condition, you give us little choice but to start a campaign of boycotting travel to countries like Australia and New Zealand. At least this course of action will help prevent tragedies like my daughters from happening.
As many as 1,000 people are estimated to die from DVT each year in Britain alone, while Test cricketer Steve Waugh was a high-profile sufferer of mild thrombosis. Mrs Christoffersen said VARDA would target travel agents, urging them not to sell trips to Australia without warning potential tourists of the dangers of the long flight. Theres a lot of us over here in VARDA who feel very strongly about this, Mrs Christoffersen told AAP from her home in Newport. All these countries are sitting on the fence and doing nothing. Theyre not supporting the World Health Organisation to get the study done.
Theyre willing to take their money, theyre willing to have people go over there, but those people arent told that they might not arrive safely.
Mrs Christoffersen said other countries would be targeted, but she decided to start with Australia because it was where her daughter had been before her death. We will be writing to other countries as well but we have to start somewhere, she said. And as Emma went to Australia to have a three-week holiday of a lifetime and stepped off a plane and within minutes she was dead, we thought Australia was the apt place to start this.
From AAP Newsfeed, February 19, 2003 London.