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The George Institute's response to the 2019 Federal election

Statement from Professor Stephen MacMahon, Principal Director, The George Institute for Global Health:  

The George Institute congratulates the Prime Minister, The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, on retaining government in the 2019 Federal election. The George Institute also congratulates the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, on retaining his seat.

We hope the election outcome will provide added impetus for the Coalition Government to ensure we do all we can to stem the rising tide of serious chronic diseases we face. Half of all adults in Australia have one chronic disease, and many have several. These conditions continue to cause premature death and disability on a large scale, despite the fact that most are preventable or treatable.

While previous efforts to tackle the problem of chronic diseases in this country have been well intended, they have not always involved a coordinated, whole-of-government and cross-sector approach that we know is essential to preventing unnecessary deaths and disease burden. The separate state and federal responsibilities for hospital and community care make this particularly challenging. However, it is still critical that we put in place the best mechanisms we can to minimise the number of people falling between the cracks and suffering the consequences.

In the lead up to the election, the Coalition government recognised disease prevention as a key component to delivering a healthier Australia through their commitment to investing $1billion into primary care and $737million for mental health. These commitments by the Hon. Scott Morrison MP and the Hon. Greg Hunt MP highlight the importance of investment in new strategies to prevent and treat chronic and complex conditions. Such commitments also recognise that Australians in rural and remote settings experience disadvantage when it comes to health care and health outcomes, particularly for our First Nation communities. The George Institute strongly supports these initiatives.

That said, there needs to be more serious attention and investment given to the development and implementation of a system-wide, whole-of-government approach to the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Similarly, there needs to be a much stronger commitment to reducing the inequities facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, whose overall health status approximates that in some of the world’s poorest countries

Finally, Australia cannot deliver world class health care without world class health research. In this regard, the commitment to fully fund the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) by the LNP is particularly welcome. However, it is critical that the MRFF has a major focus on the development of innovative solutions to prevent and treat those chronic conditions that kill or disable most Australians. While research on rare genetic diseases has been the subject of very large increases in investment, this should not be at the expense of research on the conditions that affect most people. This is critical to ensuring that most Australians have access to the best care when they need it.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Federal government and supporting the implementation of its commitments to better the lives of all Australians, by the delivery of world class health care through a system that truly works.