Response by The George Institute, Australia – Budget 2019-20

Statement from Professor Vlado Perkovic, Executive Director of The George Institute, Australia:

“The 2019-20 Federal Budget has been delivered, and while there is much to be positive about in the announcements made to health and research, key areas crucial to preventing the biggest burdens of disease – chronic disease and injury – remain neglected and underfunded.

“The commitment to long term investment in the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is particularly welcome. This is critical to ensure Australians have access to the best care when they need it, and to allow for researchers to plan ahead as they to look to solve our biggest health challenges.

“The MRFF, alongside the National Health and Medical Research Council, is smart strategic investment in the future health of our nation, and must be spent wisely.

“The announcement of a $1billion investment in primary care, recognises the critical role of primary care in creating a healthier Australia. It also highlights the need for identifying and investing in research, new models of care to prevent and treat complex and chronic conditions, and ensuring Australians in rural and remote settings do not experience disadvantage.

“The announcement of $737million for mental health is also most welcome.

“However, there is much more for the Federal government to do to ensure that all Australians benefit from a truly transformative health system that is high quality, accessible and sustainable.”

“It’s imperative that we invest and commit to health equity and prevention measures that will tackle the biggest health crisis facing our time – the burden of chronic disease and injuries, in particular for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“In Australia, half of all adults have at least one chronic disease, and that number is growing year on year. Many of these conditions are preventable.

“One in three adults and one in four children are overweight or obese and these rates are on the rise, putting current and future generations at greater future risk of chronic diseases.

“As such, much more serious investment and commitment to a system-wide and whole-of-government approach to address prevention of chronic diseases and injury, and addressing the inequities facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is a must. 

“It is unacceptable that in Australia, one of the world’s best health care systems, prevention of chronic diseases remain comparatively unaddressed and under-funded, and is a looming national health catastrophe.

“We are currently spending $27 billion each year on treating chronic disease. We need urgent action, policies and funds to tackle this public health crisis.

“We have access to the some of the greatest research minds in Australia. This expertise should be leveraged and invested in to address global health priorities, and support our partners in the Pacific.”