The Morrison Government has today launched the National Preventive Health Strategy, a 10-year plan to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians at all stages of life.
The Strategy seeks to improve Australia’s health system, fundamentally focused on the treatment of illness and disease, by increasing the focus on prevention – from illness to wellness, and from healthcare to health.
Chronic conditions are the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia and account for 87% of deaths.
The Strategy recognises that around 38% of the chronic disease burden could be prevented through a reduction in modifiable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. This figure rises to be 49% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Strategy strongly emphasises that preventive action must focus on the all influencing factors that impact on health to ensure health equity is achieved for priority populations – this Strategy is for all Australians.
We know Australians in good health are better able to lead fulfilling and productive lives, and can participate fully in their community, their jobs, and their education. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of our health and the economic benefits health can bring.
Strong action in preventive health will also reduce the burden of avoidable diseases and conditions on the health system, making it more robust and agile in responding to challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are four broad aims in the Strategy for Australians:
- ensuring the best start in life, from conception into early childhood
- improving quality of life and extending life expectancy
- achieving health equity for priority populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and
- increasing government investment in prevention.
The Strategy identifies 7 key system enablers that will be integral to creating long-term, sustainable changes to the health system for all Australians, outlining seven focus areas that require critical action to reduce the risks of poor health and disease:
- physical activity
- cancer screening
- alcohol and other drug use;
- and mental health.
Australia’s record in prevention is already strong through immunisation, bowel and cervical cancer screening, and the reduction of tobacco use. The Strategy brings a coordinated, systems-based approach that seeks to embed prevention in the health sector and society more generally.
The Government has invested $1.9 million in 2021-22 to build the foundations of the Strategy, with the first steps for implementation are already underway.
The Blueprint for Action being developed to guide implementation and provide a roadmap for the next 10 years, to ensure the Strategy achieves success.
Other immediate priorities include creating an evidence-based Prioritisation Framework, analysing the current public health workforce, and developing consumer engagement and health literacy strategies.
The Strategy builds on other key areas of reform including the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan and the refresh of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.