Some positive announcements for chronic disease, but much more needed to prevent future burden

The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance has welcomed last week’s Budget statement and announcements by both the Government and the Opposition to invest in chronic disease treatment and care, while calling on the major parties to commit to more action on prevention in the upcoming election campaign.

The 2019-20 Government Budget commitments for primary care, research and chronic disease Action Plans were welcomed, in addition to funding to tackle heart disease and stroke, announced on Thursday.

The Opposition’s Budget reply further recognised the burden of chronic disease in its focus on cancer and significant commitment of $2.3 billion to reduce cancer inequities and patient costs.

Chair of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance Sharon McGowan said, “Investment in treatment and care is crucial, and we welcome the recent announcements to improve the lives of people living with chronic conditions.”

“But we also need urgent investment in prevention of chronic disease to reduce the number of people affected by these diseases in the future.”

“We have strong evidence that we can prevent the development of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease and many cancers through public health policies and programs that address the unhealthy environments around us and enable people to adopt healthier behaviours.”

Ms McGowan said that while Australia continued to underinvest in prevention, we could expect to see increasing Budget pressures and rising hospital, medical and drug costs for preventable chronic diseases.

“We can, and must, do more to create healthy environments and empower Australians to eat well, be active, maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking and reduce their alcohol intake," said Ms McGowan.

“Gains in chronic disease prevention will take time and investment, but this investment will deliver significant rewards now and for generations to come."