Prevention

Chronic illness is increasing. A third of the health burden relates to our health behaviours and lifestyle factors. Prevention is a key way in which we can reduce the pressures on our health care services. Yet our health system is focused on acute care, tackling the problem when we get sick, rather than aiming to prevent us getting sick and keeping us well.

National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission Fact Sheet

Making prevention a focus in the health system
More information to help better choices
In our communities
More information

Chronic illness is increasing. A third of the health burden relates to our health behaviours and lifestyle factors. Prevention is a key way in which we can reduce the pressures on our health care services. Yet our health system is focused on acute care, tackling the problem when we get sick, rather than aiming to prevent us getting sick and keeping us well.

Making prevention a focus in the health system

An independent National Health and Promotion Agency should be set up. This would have a broad role, including better education, evidence and research.

Governments should commit to a rolling series of 10-year goals – titled ‘Healthy Australia 2020 goals’ – developed and actioned with the Australian community.

More information to help better choices

More consumer-friendly information, including from food manufacturers and retailers, would make healthy choices easier and help people taking greater responsibility for improving their own health.

Information should be made available in the form of a ‘wellness footprint’ on the factors that contribute to healthy communities – urban planning, public transport, ‘community connectedness’ and a sustainable environment – to help local communities to take relevant action.

About 60 per cent of Australians lack basic health literacy which can result in poor health outcomes. The National Curriculum in primary and secondary schools should be changed to include Health Literacy and incorporate it in national basic skills assessments.

In our communities

People can be encouraged towards health promoting behaviours through better information, prevention activities that have been proven to work and health promotion programs. As well, we can change the environments Australians live in to ‘make healthy choices easy choices’. People should be active participants in their own good health, working in partnership with health professionals, carers and families to achieve their maximum health potential. Health is everyone’s business.

Healthy living and healthy choices from the start of life can be supported by all children and their parents having access to a core schedule of contacts and targeted services, including health promotion, and information, through child and family health services in their local communities.

Greater support for the delivery of wellness and health promotion programs by employers and health insurers is also supported. Governments should review regulations or barriers that might hold up the roll-out of such programs.

More information

This is a summary of some of the major recommendations of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission. Full recommendations can be found in A Healthier Future For All Australians – Final Report of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission – June 2009

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Page last updated 27 July, 2009