Prevention 1st is a campaign by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Alzheimer’s Australia, and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia, calling on all Australian governments and political parties to commit to a strong preventive health agenda to tackle Australia’s greatest health challenge.
One in two Australians has a chronic disease. Chronic diseases are long-lasting diseases that have persistent effects and include heart disease, dementia, stroke, chronic kidney disease, lung disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Chronic diseases are also linked to a range of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Many of these diseases are preventable since a third of chronic diseases can be traced to four modifiable risk factors: alcohol consumption, tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Action to address these risk factors will lead to a reduction in chronic disease.
This impact has been recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has developed a set of global targets to achieve a 25 per cent reduction in premature mortality from chronic disease by the year 2025. For Australia to be a healthier nation by 2025, planned and comprehensive prevention policies and actions to reduce preventable chronic diseases are a national priority of the highest order.
The 2017-18 Budget is an opportunity to take strong policy action to address the rising tide of chronic disease and address the significant under-investment in preventive health.
The Prevention 1st Pre-Budget 2017-18 submission to Treasury identifies four actions to target the key chronic disease risk factors: alcohol consumption, tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition.
- Use corrective taxes to encourage healthier food and beverage choices, minimise the broader costs and maximise the health and economic benefits to the community.
- Introduce a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages that will reduce their consumption and raise $429 million per year.
- Apply corrective taxes on alcohol beverages to reduce the associated harm and raise revenue of at least $2.9 billion annually.
- Maintain the Goods and Services Tax (GST) exemptions for fresh food and vegetables, saving $1.43 billion over the lifetime of the 2003 population.
- Coordinate action across governments, increase expenditure on preventive health and fund programs aimed at reducing the impact of chronic disease.
- Increase spending on preventive health by 2020 to at least five per cent of total health expenditure, at a cost of $8 billion over three years.
- Establish a national preventive health agreement with state and territory governments to coordinate and facilitate action to reduce the impact of chronic disease.
- Support primary health care providers to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease by including screening and ongoing management as part of the new Quality Improvement Incentive payment and by establishing a Medicare Benefits Schedule item for this assessment.
- Reallocate transport infrastructure funding to active travel initiatives, to encourage and support safe walking to and from school, and instigate a national physical activity plan.
- Commit to funding of the Australian Health Survey and its associated National Health Measures Survey every five years, at a cost of $12 million per survey for the biomedical component.
- Phase out promotion and marketing of unhealthy food and beverages that are associated with increased risk of chronic disease.
- Phase out sponsorship of sport and cultural events by unhealthy foods, sugar sweetened beverages and alcohol brands, and support the transition away from these industries by establishing a Sponsorship Replacement Fund of $200 million over four years.
- Restrict television advertising of unhealthy foods, sugary drinks and alcohol products between 5am and 9pm.
- Fund national public education campaigns to raise awareness of the risks associated with alcohol, tobacco, physical inactivity and poor nutrition.
- Fund sustained, evidence-based public education campaigns that address alcohol, tobacco, physical inactivity and poor nutrition to encourage healthy living at a cost of $400 million over four years.
- Implement a series of supporting, evidence-based health promotion activities in key settings, such as workplaces, primary healthcare and schools, to reinforce knowledge and skills for behaviour change, at a cost of $400 million over four years.