Prevention key to tackle health crisis

The Draft National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030 is a good example of collaborative, evidence-based policy work and the AMA is pleased to be involved in genuine engagement with the Government during its development.

Currently, only 1.7 per cent of Australia’s health budget is invested in preventive health. This is woefully inadequate and far less than similar countries in the OECD. The AMA supports the draft Strategy’s proposal to increase that to 5 per cent of health funding by 2030. 

The AMA’s Social Determinants of Health Position Statement captures the importance of the overall health of Australians by focusing on those inequities.

The draft strategy includes a commendable acknowledgment of the underlying social, economic, environmental and cultural determinants of health, which means prevention efforts need to be widely targeted and not focused only on individual behaviour change.

The draft strategy includes some promising elements such as robust policy recommendations on health literacy, tobacco control, alcohol and other drugs, nutrition, physical activity, immunisation, mental health and cancer screening.

The AMA’s submission also outlines several improvements needed in the draft strategy including;

carrying though the recognition of underlying health determinants into practical policy suggestions acknowledging climate change mitigation as a key preventive health opportunity making sure all targets are measurable and time-bound.

Prevention can not only save lives, but also take pressure off the health system in the long term.

Doctors, especially GPs have a vital role to play in preventive health in terms of early intervention and helping patients to manage risk factors.

When the final strategy is released, the AMA will scrutinise how its recommended policies will be implemented and by whom.

“The AMA looks forward to the finalised Strategy and accompanying funding announcements by the Australian Government to ensure it is implemented and the 5 per cent funding target is reached by 2030.”

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