World Health Organisation ignored in Australia

31/08/2011

‘If all of us play our parts in this reform agenda, together we have every chance of creating the 21st century system of care that we so desperately need.’

Prof Patrick McGorry
'Determining the Future: A Fair Go and Health for All'


A book authored by 40 leading Australian health and social policy experts says three year old recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) aimed at improving the health of chronically ill Australians should be adopted by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) as the next phase of national health reform.

Determining the Future: A Fair Go and Health for All, published by Connor Court Publishing, outlines how the recommendations of a 2008 report of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health should be adopted in Australia.

Catholic Health Australia CEO and editor of the book, Martin Laverty, said “COAG has finalised health reforms. The next phase of health reform should focus on keeping people well so they needn’t interact with the health system at all, saving taxpayers money in the process.

“The WHO in 2008 invited all Governments around the world to develop action plans on social determinants such as education, welfare, and housing policies. Three years on in Australia, only the South Australian Government has formally responded to the WHO. With the first phase of health reform complete, responding to the WHO should become COAG’s next focus,” Mr Laverty said.

“Australians in the lowest socioeconomic group die on average three years early than people in the highest group. Those in this lowest socioeconomic group have twice the rate of chronic illness than those on the highest. Education, employment, and housing play key roles in these health outcomes.

“Keeping people healthy and out of hospital requires action on social determinants. Actions can include better assistance for at risk mothers during pregnancy, expanded early childhood development in disadvantaged areas, and assistance to help at risk kids complete their schooling.

“Action on social determinants also includes helping people gain and hold employment, providing adequate housing, supporting people in times of personal crisis, and making sure mental health services are readily accessible. These areas mostly sit outside health policy thinking.”

Determining the Future: A Fair Go and Health for All is authored by Professor Frank Brennan SJ AO, Martin Laverty, Dr Tom Calma, Mick Gooda, Dr Steve Hambleton, Professor Patrick McGorry, Dr Rhonda Galbally AO, Professor Mike Daube, Dr John Falzon, Professor Fran Baum, Dr Matt Fisher, Colin Wood, Hon Michael Board, Salli Hickford, Taanya Widdicombe, Professor Laurie Brown, Dr Binod Nepal, Dr David Cooper, Ben Harris-Roxas, Michelle Maxwell, Mark Thornell, Sharon Peters, Patrick Harris, Dr Jenny May, Colleen Koh, Professor Leonie Segal, James Doidge, Dr Jackie Amos, Peter Sainsbury, Dr Elizabeth Harris, Marilyn Wise, Melissa Sweet, Helen Wiseman, Gloria Larman, Dr Tim Woodruff, Rachel Yates, Leanne Wells, Scott Brown, David Butt, and Liz Callaghan. The authors are donating any profits from the book to a social determinants charity.
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