Healthy balance needed to change inequities

TasCOSS has welcomed Labor’s announcement it is committed to establishing a statutory body to oversee a preventative health focus in the State.

“This would provide a much needed independent champion to foster innovation and commitment to a healthier Tasmania across the health system,” CEO of TasCOSS Kym Goodes said.

“It would also place a major focus on improving the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians by addressing the social determinants of health which go beyond the boundaries of the health portfolio and include education, housing, transport, Aboriginality, food, employment and poverty.

“Establishment of a statutory body that strengthens the linkages across all areas of government and community with a focus on improved overall health is an appropriate policy response to Tasmania’s long term health outcomes.”

Ms Goodes said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had named the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age as vital issues for improvements across all governments, sectors, communities and civil society.

“Aspirations to create a healthier Tasmania must remain above politics—an independent body would achieve this and provide a longer term focus on this vital aspect of improving health outcomes for all Tasmanians,” she said.

“It is a fact that those in our community who have the lowest incomes experience the poorest health.

“As a whole, Tasmania falls behind national averages on a number of health and lifestyle measures and Tasmanians experience greater levels of disease and disability.

“Tasmanians die prematurely and thousands experience hardship, do not reach their potential and endure poor quality-of-life because of their reduced levels of health across a range of chronic diseases.

“It is imperative that Tasmania has a health system that balances maintenance of that system with investment in reducing long-term pressure on it through a focus on preventative health.

“The challenge of developing this focus while maintaining the health system is considerable but represents a long-term investment to improve health and wellbeing and reduce the burden of illness and disease in Tasmania. A preventative health focus provides a long-term, sustainable, cost-effective healthcare model that has the capacity to reduce health inequities.”[1]

[1] See, for example, Marmot, Michael (2010) Fair Society, p18; Dwyer, John p12; and Doggett (2014) p15.