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Political parties must put preventive health first: open letter

Australia can no longer adopt an 'ambulance at the bottom of the hill' approach to health. Political parties must act to reduce the burden of chronic disease.

This is the call from more than 25 health and community leaders, who have prompted all political parties to make preventive health a priority this election.

They were signatories to an open letter penned by Prevention 1st, which comprises the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Alzheimer’s Australia and the Consumer’s Health Forum of Australia (CHF).

“Chronic diseases such as heart disease, dementia, stroke, kidney disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes are all too common in Australia, accounting for 83 per cent of premature deaths (deaths among people aged less than 75 years) and 66 per cent of the total burden of disease," the letter read.

It continued: "At least 31 per cent of the burden of disease in Australia is preventable. Prevention of these conditions can occur by targeting four common risk factors: smoking; alcohol consumption; poor nutrition; and physical inactivity.

Prevention 1st 2016 Election Platform: Our greatest health challenge calls for the following actions:

  • Increase the expenditure on preventive health and ensure that resources are appropriately allocated to address the burden of chronic disease.
  • Commit to achieving the World Health Organization’s 2025 non-communicable disease reduction targets and publicly report on progress in reaching these targets.
  • Reform tax systems to minimise economic externalities, encourage healthier choices, and maximise health and economic benefits to the community.
  • Implement a labelling regime on alcohol and food products to provide health information to the community at the point of consumption.
  • Stop the unhealthy promotion and marketing of products that are associated with increased risk of chronic disease.
  • Create physical and social environments that support individuals and communities in making healthy decisions.
  • Fund public education campaigns on alcohol, tobacco, physical inactivity and poor nutrition.

Alzheimer's Australia chief executive Carol Bennett spoke with Nursing Review following the launch of the campaign. Listen for more.

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