AMA in the news: Australia’s health, immunisation, whooping cough

The AMA’s views on a range of health issues, including preventive health and the vital role played by GPs in vaccination, were highlighted in the media this week.

The Australia Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) this week released its Australia’s health 2024: in brief, report.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said it showed Australia’s life expectancy was higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic and the in top 4 among OECD nations.

However, Covid-19 has been a major driver of the first reduction in life expectancy seen in Australia since the mid 1990’s.“Australians are spending an increasing number of years, on average, in ill health, which is placing more pressure on demand on the health system,” Professor Robson said.

“Australians are living a long time, but the burdens of chronic disease and mental illness are on the rise.

“We must treat health spending as an investment, rather than a cost. Placing greater focus on preventative health, mental health and increasing support for general practice would help Australians live healthier lives and would save taxpayers dollars in the long run by reducing pressure on the health system.”

In a submission to the federal government’s public consultation on the 2025-2030 National Immunisation Strategy, the AMA highlighted the critical role GPs have played in the achievement of world leading rates of vaccination in Australia and called for this to be strengthened even further.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the situation around the world was concerning, as a drop in childhood vaccinations is driving a global resurgence of measles and other infectious diseases.

“Australia’s world-leading National Immunisation Program has led to an exceptionally high rate of childhood immunisation, but there are many challenges to overcome on the path to the national coverage target of 95 per cent,” Professor Robson said.

Professor Robson told ABC TV News Breakfast of the dangers of the current wave of whooping cough — “the 100-day cough” — particularly for newborns and infants.

He said people were asking why there had been an outbreak of whooping cough, which seemed particularly bad.

“I think we have a suspicion there may have been a bit of a lapse in vaccination and vaccinations are readily available,” Professor Robson said.

“It’s safe for adults and pregnant mums. And ,of course, children have the vaccination as part of routine care, but I think we all understand there is a sense in the community about tiredness with vaccination.

“I understand that, but I think when we see these sorts of waves, this sort of misery.... I think it’s really important to remind yourself that if you are due for a vaccination for whooping cough see your GP.”

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