Investment in preventive health is needed now to curb the rise of chronic disease, says the Consumers Health Forum.
CHF says it welcomes the National Reform Summit’s recognition that preventative healthcare contributes to economic and social growth.
“[But] the summit says rising public debt reduces opportunities for public investment in areas like preventative healthcare,” says CHF CEO Leanne Wells.
“However, we would argue that Australia needs to invest in preventive health measures right now if we want to curb modern diseases and make the most of our human resources,” says Wells.
Wells says the anti-tobacco compaign is an example of how preventive health measures can be hugely successful, despite opposition from the tobacco industry.
“The reduced rate of smoking means fewer heart attacks and lung cancers and contributes many hundreds of millions of dollars in reduced health and productivity costs, right now, reducing the call on government spending.
“But Australia faces many other heavy health and economic costs resulting from preventable chronic conditions of modern life. Just three examples are:
- Almost two in three Australians are overweight or obese, often reducing their productivity, adding many billions to Australia’s health bills.
- Diabetes, largely preventable through diet and exercise in nine out of 10 cases, is estimated to cost Australia $14.6bn.
- The Health Department states that an increasing body of evidence suggests that vocational outcomes for people affected by mental illness can be improved substantially, leading to better health outcomes.
Wells says more needs to be done given the evidence that population health measures which encourage healthier lifestyles “deliver great dividends to the national economy”.
“The CHF believes the Government’s inquiry into reforms of primary care for chronic and complex conditions, and the Medicare benefits system, provide a potential basis for developing a stronger preventive focus to our health system.
“The Health Minister, Sussan Ley, has nominated preventive health as an important focus. We hope both sides of politics will offer strong preventive health policies for the next federal election,” says Wells.