As state and territory leaders meet in Canberra today to discuss reforms to Medicare to improve care offered to Australians suffering from chronic disease, Carl Gibson from Complementary Medicines Australia says complementary medicines contribute to a required preventive health revolution.
“Given that millions of Australians suffer from conditions that are potentially avoidable, such as diabetes and heart disease, and half of all potentially avoidable hospital admissions in 2013-2014 were to treat chronic conditions, the preference for prevention over cure needs to be given greater weight in the Australian health system,” says Gibson.
“The reforms to deliver tailor-made care packages for individuals need to include a smarter role for preventive health measures.
“This is not limited to, but certainly includes, the use of complementary medicines for primary and secondary prevention of illness, and encouraging and empowering all Australians to take better care of their health.”
He cited a 2014 Frost & Sullivan report, ‘Targeted Use of Complementary Medicines: Potential Health Outcomes and Cost Savings in Australia’ which examined the use of six complementary medicines across four chronic disease conditions – cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, age-related macular degeneration and depression – all of which contribute heavily to the national burden of illness in Australia.
The report estimated that between 2015 and 2020 an average annual hospitalisation cost of $922 million could be potentially saved, along with gains in productivity of $900 million, he says.
In addition, a health economics analysis, presented to members and senators in Parliament House last November, showed that vitamin B3 can save $2 in healthcare costs for every $1 spent, he says.
The economic modelling was based on the ONTRAC study, an Australian research paper, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed a 23% reduction in the risk of new skin cancers.
“A greater focus on preventive health is an essential move towards improving the cost-effectiveness of the Australian healthcare system and crucial in taking pressure off over-stretched hospitals,” Gibson says.