Federal government launches new National Preventive Health Strategy

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Health minister Greg Hunt has launched the new ten-year National Preventive Health Strategy.

Minister Hunt said the strategy seeks to refocus Australia's health system from illness to wellness and from healthcare to health.

Chronic conditions are the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia and account for 87 per cent of deaths, he said, adding that around 38 per cent of the chronic disease burden could be prevented through a reduction in modifiable risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

"We know Australians in good health are better able to lead fulfilling and productive lives, and can participate fully in their community, their jobs, and their education. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of our health and the economic benefits health can bring," said Minister Hunt.

"Strong action in preventive health will also reduce the burden of avoidable diseases and conditions on the health system, making it more robust and agile in responding to challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic."

The new strategy includes four broad aims - ensuring the best start in life, from conception into early childhood; improving quality of life and extending life expectancy; achieving health equity for priority populations, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; and, increasing government investment in prevention.

The strategy also identifies seven areas requiring critical action to reduce the risks of poor health and disease. They are nutrition, physical activity, tobacco, immunisation, cancer screening, alcohol and other drug use, and mental health.

Minister Hunt said the 'Blueprint for Action' is being developed to guide the implementation of the strategy.

"Other immediate priorities include creating an evidence-based Prioritisation Framework, analysing the current public health workforce, and developing consumer engagement and health literacy strategies," he said.