15 December 2021
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has welcomed the release of the National Preventive Health Strategy for 2021-2030, along with the inclusion of many recommendations the RACP has strongly advocated for, including:
- A 5 per cent funding commitment of total health expenditure across all jurisdictions
- Inclusion of the determinants of health, and especially the environmental determinants of health including climate change
- Improved nutrition through the reduction of sugar, saturated fat, and sodium content of packaged and processed foods, including through consideration of tax reform; and
- An equity focus in the strategy, with the inclusion of specific equity targets for Indigenous Australians, Australians in regional and remote areas, and Australians impacted by social and economic disadvantage
- A commitment to future proofing the public health workforce and the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach
- Improved cultural safety across the Australian health system for appropriate and responsive health care for all Australians and the prioritisation of care through ACCHSs
RACP President Professor John Wilson says, “The pandemic has taught us the importance of having a strong health system that is prepared for major health crises and the increasing burden of chronic diseases. Prevention is a critical pillar of a robust health system – a pillar that has been underfunded and under-recognised for too long.
“The strategy sets a comprehensive preventive health agenda for Australia over the next decade. We strongly support these commitments and ask the Government to move towards this goal with the alacrity it deserves.
“We also welcome the forthcoming ‘Blueprint for Action’ and ‘Prioritisation Framework’ which will guide the implementation of the Strategy. We are pleased to see the strategy is built on significant international evidence such as the Sustainable Development Goals, and call on the government to commit to a timeframe and detailed funding for completing these.
“Implementation of the strategy and progress towards its targets need to be evaluated and publicly reported on.
“To be successful, the Strategy needs to be well-funded. We are calling on the Federal Government to demonstrate its commitment to this Strategy by providing a comprehensive funding plan commencing with next year’s March budget linked to the aims and targets in the strategy. The pandemic has demonstrated that there is no time to lose; this should not wait any longer.
“This important plan has been developed closely with health and medical experts. We call on all major parties to commit to supporting and implementing this plan.
In Australia, almost 40 per cent 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.
“In light of the pandemic and an epidemic of chronic disease, the importance of safeguarding health at a population level is only increasing.
“Australians are becoming increasingly susceptible to living with complex and co-morbid conditions. National health outcomes could flourish with a preventive health strategy that prioritises and invests in the health and wellbeing of all Australians.”
The RACP’s submission to the National Preventive Health Strategy, with their full list of recommendations, can be found here.
 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