With Australians living almost 11 years in poor health on average, equating to around 13 per cent of their life, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) welcomes the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030 to urgently address health inequalities, and embed ‘prevention’ in our health system.
Launched yesterday by the Federal Government, the Strategy sets critical targets to drive new investment in health prevention, helping to improve inequalities through a greater focus on primary health care and physical activity.
APA National President Scott Willis says that the APA has long called for accelerated establishment of new preventive health models across priority populations.
“This Strategy will ensure we apply a stronger health equity lens to preventive health actions, and when coupled with physiotherapy, will result in better health and wellbeing. Physiotherapy holds some of the most promising models in reorienting the health system towards primary care,” Mr Willis said.
“We know that priority populations stand to benefit most from physiotherapy-led prevention, and this Strategy signals an important shift from management to prevention, which will be critical for all Australians.”
It is estimated that a third of the disease burden in Australia could be prevented by reducing modifiable risk factors, such as obesity or physical inactivity. The Strategy places a strong emphasis on the importance of physiotherapy in prevention over the lifecycle.
Representing the highest health spend at $14 billion, more money is spent on musculoskeletal disorders, such as osteoarthritis and back pain, than any other disease, condition or injury in Australia.
“Physiotherapy helps people of all ages to prevent, manage and rehabilitate injury, illness or disability, and screen for a range of preventive health conditions, particularly in the ‘pain’ space,” Mr Willis said.
“The Strategy points to physical inactivity as a key determinant of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breast and colon cancer, mental health conditions, experiencing falls and musculoskeletal conditions.
“Physical activity can assist in the prevention and management of these conditions, and physiotherapy plays a key role in preventing or reducing the length of hospitalisation through its prescription.
“Prescribing our way out of pain is not a viable solution. The expansion of public physiotherapy for prevention and management of chronic conditions and pain, is critical. Too many Australians are waiting for treatment, and this expansion should extend to the prevention of falls, workplace injuries, chronic pain, sporting injuries and those living with disability.
The APA would like to acknowledge APA member Christian Barton for his integral input into the development of the Strategy as part of the Expert Steering Committee.
Scott Willis is available for comment.
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