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Barwon Health / Barwon South West Public Health Unit

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Public Health leader recognised for valuable work

Monday, 01 November 2021

In June earlier this year Director of the Barwon South West Public Health Unit Professor Eugene Athan was honoured for his role in the pandemic, receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia as part of the Queen's Birthday honours.

This week Professor Athan OAM attended Government House in Melbourne to receive the medal in person.

Professor Athan is a highly respected leading infectious diseases specialist at Barwon Health. His leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic has kept the people of Geelong and the Barwon South West region safe, informed and well cared for. Professor Athan also led the establishment of the Barwon South West Public Health Unit – an integral part of the fight again COVID-19.

Professor Athan is dedicated to developing the next generation of doctors. He provides ongoing training and supervision of interns, hospital medical officers and registrars in clinical medicine, infectious diseases, intensive care and emergency medicine.

In recent years, Professor Athan established a dedicated multidisciplinary refugee health clinic to support the healthcare needs of mainly Sudanese, Liberian and Burmese populations who settled in the Geelong region. He also established a viral hepatitis service for the Geelong region providing a community support group, dedicated nurse, educator, combination therapy and mental health liaison service. Since 2004, Professor Athan has worked with Diversitat and North Richmond Community Health Centre to deliver targeted sexual health/HIV education to refugee communities in Geelong and Colac.

Outside of Geelong Professor Athan’s international humanitarian contributions included service in Pakistan as a public health specialist during the 2010 floods and in Zimbabwe for a cholera emergency in 2009. He was also head of the Australian medical team for the country’s response to the Boxing Day tsunami in Indonesia.