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The State of the Nation: Verdict – we deserve better

No more talk and wishful thinking.

The time for commitment and action is now.

The latest biennial report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare into the health of Australians provides cold comfort. It focuses on the health impacts of Covid-19 (spoiler alert, no real surprises here) and how we as a nation are faring overall.

What hasn’t changed is that many of us are living with one or more chronic medical conditions and that coronary artery disease and dementia are the leading cause of death.

There are the usual laments about people not eating enough vegetables (we know but don’t do) and not everyone is getting enough exercise – though, 7 out of 10 Aussies do.

What’s more worrying are the reports about how fat we are getting.

Two-thirds of Aussies are either overweight or obese, meaning you are now in the minority of you are in the healthy weight range.

This is not about fat shaming but rather a reflection of why this should be, especially as a considerable number of people are spending a lot of money trying to lose weight.

The reason this matters is because it ties into other things.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you are at risk of weight gain because of the disturbance to the hormones that control weight. This means you can be eating healthily and doing some exercise, but if your sleep pattern is poor, those unwanted kilos may be moving in the wrong direction.

In addition, high levels of stress as experienced during the pandemic can interfere with sleep patterns, your state of mind and what you choose to eat.

In Australia in 2019-2020 around $202.5 billion dollars was spent on health. This equates to about $7,900 per person.

That’s one heck of a lot of money.

The bigger question is how much was spent on prevention and mitigating the risk of developing a long-term medical condition.

The answer may shock you.

In 2017 it was $89.00 per person and hasn’t increased much since.

This is nuts!

 

Don’t we as Australians deserve better?

With costs of health care spiralling along with costs of living and increased pressure on the health system, if we are truly committed to getting mental and general health services sorted, doesn’t that imply that we need to be spending more than a measly 2% of the health budget on prevention?

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a golden opportunity to reimagine preventive measures to stop people from getting sick.

We’ve got good at learning how to wash our hands, use hand sanitisers, wear a mask to reduce airborne transmission of disease and practiced physical distancing and yet…

And yet, there is still very little investment into preventing the development of common chronic health disease such as obesity, type two diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension and mental mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Meanwhile, recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is underway.

There is an opportunity right now to implement the changes desperately needed to improve the health and wellbeing of every Australian.

Let’s not let it slip through our fingers.

We have the scientific evidence to know what works.

We have the ability, to transform our health care for the better.

There’s no time to waste.

Let’s do this, together, now.

Are you with me on this?

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