Taking Preventative Action
8. Next Steps and Timeline
The increase in the prevalence of risk factors such as obesity coupled with the ageing population and rising health care costs means that preventable chronic disease continues to be a significant challenge for the health and wellbeing of the population and for the viability of the health system. Preventative health provides an effective mechanism for managing these challenges now and into the future.
Recognising the enormity of the task, the Commonwealth Government invested early in preventative health initiatives such as the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health, the National Partnership on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes, the National Binge Drinking Strategy, and in comprehensive measures tackling tobacco.
We now have the evidence and the critical infrastructure required to guide preventative health in Australia.
The Preventative Health Taskforce has provided the Government with the options that have led to the action that we are now undertaking. It will also help in guiding our action in the future.
The establishment of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency provides the leadership, research, evaluation and policy advisory capacity to guide the national preventative agenda.
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The establishment of Medicare Locals will bring local tailoring, ingenuity and know-how to adopt national preventative health approaches to local circumstances.
Finally, investments in workforce training and innovation will increase the capacity of primary care to provide preventative health services.
This infrastructure will help deliver preventative health action in combating obesity, tobacco and alcohol abuse – but also in other preventative health areas such as immunisation, injury prevention, illicit drugs and mental health.
The Commonwealth has already taken action and will continue to do so into the future, monitoring trends, assessing outcomes, evaluating the evidence and building on recent investments. Investments are being made, policy decisions taken and our timetable of action being delivered.
Comprehensive approaches, such as those used on smoking, have been found to be the most effective in producing preventative health outcomes.
Like the Taskforce said, everyone has a role to play in prevention. We therefore call on all others to join the preventative health effort. Building on the work detailed in this document- individuals, families, communities, local, state and territory governments, industry and businesses all have a role to play in preventing chronic disease. Together we can ensure that Australia is the healthiest country by 2020.
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