In a search for ways to help the Pilbara’s struggling healthcare industry, 10 medical project finalists have been selected in the State Government’s The Challenge competition. In October last year, the Government issued a $5 million challenge to healthcare researchers across the globe to find ways to improve the Pilbara’s healthcare industry. Of the 100 ideas submitted, on June 19 ten finalists were selected by a group of experts and stakeholders in the community. Each finalist has been awarded $200, 000 to launch their idea in the Pilbara over a 12-month period to test its feasibility. MP Kevin Michel said he was excited to see how these projects made a difference in people’s lives. “The Pilbara is a vast and varied region, which presents unique challenges for the provision of healthcare,” he said. “I’m so impressed by the level of talent on display in these finalists. “Each idea has the potential to change lives, not only in the Pilbara but in the wider community. “Making sure these projects are culturally appropriate and work on the ground in the Pilbara is key, which is why I’m excited to see how these ideas evolve during the proof-of-concept phase.” One project seeks to close the communication gap between healthcare workers and Aboriginal community members by using AI technology. Another innovation includes a new type of microneedle patch to help screen for skin cancers. MLC Stephen Dawson said the large WA representation in the finalist pool should go a long way toward improving health outcomes in the Pilbara. “The global attention the Challenge has attracted has put Western Australia in the spotlight as a leader in medical research,” he said. “All ten finalists are from Australia, and eight originate from WA, proving we breed innovative thinkers and support entry-level ideas. “It’s also great to see some of the major scientific agencies step up to The Challenge, with CSIRO, Telstra Health, Curtin University, and the University of Western Australia among the finalists.” BHP, Rio Tinto, and the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund all partnered to deliver the prize which will be announced in October 2024 The communities in Port Hedland and Newman were rocked recently when two Sonic Health clinics announced they were shutting down. A video showcasing the finalist projects can be viewed online.