A new Grattan Institute report warns chronic health conditions are the biggest killer in Australia and the toll will keep rising unless the new Australian Centre for Disease Control, or ACDC, has preventing chronic disease is a core part of its mission.
The report, The Australian Centre for Disease Control (ACDC): Highway to health, shows that chronic conditions are the biggest killer in Australia, contributing to 9 in 10 deaths. The burden is heaviest on the most disadvantaged Australians, who are twice as likely to have two or more chronic conditions. Many of the causes of chronic disease, such as obesity, are rising dramatically.
The report says that changing course will require shifting policy focus from sickness to health, and stopping chronic disease before it starts. The Grattan Institute argues the ACDC – promised by Labor in the lead-up to the 2022 federal election – should be at the heart of a new national project to prevent chronic disease.
‘The prize on offer here is enormous,’ says report lead author and Grattan Institute Health and Aged Care Program Director Peter Breadon.
‘Better chronic disease prevention would improve the quality of life of millions of Australians and save taxpayers billions of dollars in avoided hospital stays and other treatments.
‘The Centre for Disease Control must be independent, to keep governments on track. And a new body alone won’t be enough, governments must also commit to more prevention funding’.
Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin, CEO, Public Health Association of Australia, supported the Grattan report findings and urges the Government look beyond the here-and-now of hospital beds and treatments and address the bigger picture, before it’s too late.
“This new report hammers home the incoming tsunami of chronic disease,” he said.
“More Australians are getting sick with preventable disease. Today, almost one in two Australians live with chronic disease, and the burden of chronic disease has increased by 38 per cent over the past three decades. We are facing an influx of preventable deaths and disability.”
“It’s ironic that Governments are spending more and more money treating sick people, while investment in measures that stop people getting sick in the first place has remained low.”
“Even during the height of the pandemic, total Government spending on prevention was just 3.7 per cent of the total health budget, well below the modest 5 per cent recommended in the National Preventive Health Strategy.”
A CDC was an election pledge of the Albanese Government and a passion project for the then Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen.
“Health experts have been calling for an Australian CDC for more than three decades. It’s time to get on with it,” Chris Bowen said when announcing the policy in October 2020.
The Department of Health began consultations on the proposed CDC in November last year.