Health groups welcome cross-party commitment on health checks

The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance welcomes support by the Australian
Government and the federal Opposition for a Medicare item to prevent and manage
vascular disease – heart, stroke, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. Funding for an
integrated health check has also been backed by the Australian Greens.
Alliance members, including the National Heart Foundation, Stroke Foundation,
Diabetes Australia, Kidney Health Australia and Cancer Council Australia, have long
championed integrated health checks to stem the tide of Australia’s chronic disease
Chair of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance Sharon McGowan said
investment in comprehensive health checks would encourage people to consider their
health before a crisis.
“Chronic diseases affect half of the Australian population and are the leading cause of
death in Australia,” said Ms McGowan.
“Yet, many people are unaware of their risk and the first sign something is wrong is a trip
to the hospital.”
Around one-third of chronic disease could be prevented through modifiable risk factors,
such as smoking, unhealthy weight, poor diet and high blood pressure. Although the
new item has been focused around vascular disease, key risk factors, such as smoking,
cause several chronic diseases and many people suffer co-morbidities through lifestyle.
Ms McGowan said today’s announcement was an important step forward in Government
recognition of the importance of prevention as well as cure.
“A Medicare item for integrated health checks provides an important opportunity for
people to consider their risk in consultation with their GP and take steps to reduce their
risk through lifestyle changes and/or medication,” she said.
Chronic diseases – including heart disease and stroke – account for more than one-third
of health spending, with costs expected to increase as the population ages.
“Investment in prevention is crucial to address the growing impact of chronic disease
and reduce unnecessary hospitalisations,” Ms McGowan said.
“The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance welcomes the cross-party support
for comprehensive health checks to reduce disease risk and improve the health and
wellbeing of Australians.”

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