RACP calls on Government to increase preventative healthcare to better prepare Australia for future health challenges

April 19, 2021

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has released its pre-budget submission which calls on the Federal Government to increase its investment in preventative health.

The College says this is critical for better preparing Australia for future health challenges by reducing risk factors causing chronic disease, and is urging the Government to increase its current 1.34 per cent contribution of the healthcare budget to 5 per cent. This increase should be accompanied by a significant increase in provision to train Public Health physicians.

RACP President Professor John Wilson says “The pandemic has taught us many things – one of them is the importance of having a strong robust health system that is prepared for major health crises.

“Our health system was clearly up to this challenge – but now is the time to be proactive and invest in protecting the Australian population against future pandemics and other health crises, which are inevitably in our future.

“Covid has highlighted that people with chronic health conditions are often at greater risk of disease from infection. Many chronic health conditions can be prevented by investing in the right preventative health measures.

“By expanding preventative healthcare initiatives we can reduce the burden of disease in Australia and better protect our community against the challenges of the future – not to mention the benefits of easing the financial strain on our healthcare system.”

It is estimated that annual productivity loss potentially attributed to individual risk factors were between $840 million and $14.9 billion for obesity, up to $10.5 billion due to tobacco, between $1.1 billion and $6.8 billion for excess alcohol consumption, up to $15.6 billion due to physical inactivity, and $561 million for individual dietary risk factors.3

“The current preventative healthcare expenditure of 1.34 per cent is simply not enough – and it shows in the health of our population.”

  • Almost 40 percent of the national burden of disease is preventable and due to key modifiable risk factors such as unhealthy diet, harmful consumption of alcohol or lack of physical activity. 1
  • Over 80 percent of Australians are estimated to have at least one chronic condition or risk factor for one. 2

“A growing number of people living with complex and co-morbid conditions translates to an increase in poorer health outcomes and in loss of life and wellbeing. This includes worse outcomes from diseases such as COVID-19.

“We acknowledge and welcome the development of a National Preventative Health Strategy which is currently under consultation but words and documents must be backed with greater funding than what we’re currently working with.”

The RACP’s pre-budget submission also calls for the Government to fund a national health and climate change strategy and improve health equity outcomes for Indigenous populations.

The RACP’s pre-budget submission can be found on the RACP website, detailing all 48 recommendations to Government: 

1 Britt, H., Miller, G.C., Henderson, J., Bayram, C., Harrison, C., Valenti, L., Pan, Y., Charles, J., Pollack, A.J., Wong, C. and Gordon, J., 2016. General practice activity in Australia 2015–16. Sydney University Press
2 Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015 AIHW 20
3 Crosland, P., Ananthapavan, J., Davison, J., Lambert, M. and Carter, R. (2019), The economic cost of preventable disease in Australia: a systematic review of estimates and methods. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 43: 484-495.

Close overlay