Preventive care must be cornerstone of Commonwealth health policy

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

As the July 2 election nears, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has called on all parties to make preventive care the cornerstone of Commonwealth health policy.

“Recent policy announcements such as Labor’s community-based preventive health plan and the Greens’ proposed sugar tax and plan for active transport as part of a broader obesity prevention strategy have been a welcome spotlight on preventive care” AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said.

Preventive healthcare features to varying degrees in the health policies of the Coalition, Labor and the Greens. But if we want a healthy Australia supported by the best possible health system, then appropriately resourced preventive care as the cornerstone of Commonwealth health policy is needed.

“This will require strong, long-term leadership from the Commonwealth, in cooperation with state, territory and local governments. Policies that improve health literacy, provide funding for specific preventive health programs and meet local needs through the Primary Health Networks are required,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“While investing in preventive health measures generates a short term cost, innovative initiatives can also create savings in reduced healthcare costs in the future.”

With the fourth Intergenerational Report highlighting the pressure of health costs on the Commonwealth budget, it is vital that preventive health strategies be encouraged to lessen the individual, intergenerational and health system burden which will otherwise emerge in the future.

Expenditure on preventive health measures can legitimately be viewed as contributing to budget repair by reducing future demand on the health system while simultaneously improving health outcomes.

“Australia spends less on public health and prevention than most OECD countries, and our increasing burden of chronic disease intensifies the need for investment in evidence-based preventive health strategies,” Ms Verhoeven said.

Longstanding multi-partisan support for preventive action on immunisation and tobacco has shown how successful preventive care can be in improving the health of Australians.

“Preventive health is an important means of reducing future demand on the health system while simultaneously improving quality of life for all Australians,” Ms Verhoeven said.

Read more: AHHA Position Statement on Preventive Health
AHHA Election 2016 Health Policy Scorecard

Media enquiries:
Alison Verhoeven
Chief Executive, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
0403 282 501