In June 2019, the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP announced that the Australian Government would develop a National Preventive Health Strategy.
The Strategy aims to help Australians improve their health at all stages of life, through early intervention, better information, and targeting risk factors and the broader causes of health and wellbeing.
A Consultation Paper has been developed which outlines the key themes from consultations held since June 2019, as well as what the Strategy will aim to achieve and conceptually how this might be done.
Feedback on the Paper via submissions and an online survey will be used to inform the development of the Strategy. The Paper is open for public consultation on the Department’s Consultation Hub.
The Paper recognises that there are many causes of poor health, for example it says:
The health of an individual is determined largely by the social, cultural, structural, economic and physical environments experienced throughout life, as well as various individual attributes including genetic make-up.
The impact of poor health is experienced unevenly in Australian communities, with many contributing factors sitting outside of the health system. It is well known that when a community flourishes, its health tends to flourish too – enabling individuals to achieve their potential. This is due to the close relationship between people’s health and the circumstances in which people grow, live, work and age.
Generally, people in lower socioeconomic groups are at greater risk of poor health, have higher rates of illness, disability and death, and live shorter lives than people from higher socioeconomic groups. Australia has seen, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the increased health risks of these vulnerable populations.
The Paper also recognises that partnerships and greater cooperation between a range of sectors are necessary to enable the enhancement and expansion of existing prevention actions and says:
The health sector must be enabled to play a lead role in building partnerships for prevention across sectors to address the social, economic, cultural and environmental influences on health.
The six focus areas within the health system identified to boost prevention action in the first years of the Strategy and to impact health outcomes across all stages of life are:
- Reducing tobacco use
- Improving consumption of a healthy diet
- Increasing physical activity
- Increasing cancer screening Improving immunisation coverage
- Reducing alcohol and other drug-related harm
The consultation closes Monday September 28 2020.