Putting prevention first

Preventive health has long been underfunded in Australia. Dr Liz Hanna suggests that both the Prevention 1st election platform and Labor’s election announcements neglect to address critical threats to public health.

A coalition of health and community leaders has signed up to a call by Prevention 1st urging political parties to put preventive health policy first ahead of the July Federal Election. Prima Facie, this is laudable.

Preventive health has long been underfunded in Australia, despite the enormously positive cost benefits to be achieved by avoiding disease and reductions in productivity and quality of life.

The Prevention 1st 2016 Election Platform seems to have struck a chord with the Labor Party, who pledged $300 million to tackle chronic diseases through a five-point plan focusing on smoking, obesity and alcohol.

Investments in Australia’s future health are very welcome, but the focus is too narrow.

Reducing inequity and supporting the disadvantaged are missing from the Prevention 1st election agenda, and this is reflected also in Labor’s Prevention plan.