The five most pressing health priorities in 2014
Population health is not just about treating illness. It’s also about keeping people well, and all portfolios (Agriculture, Defence, Education, Employment, Environment, Finance, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Health, Immigration and Border Protection, Industry, Infrastructure and Regional Development, Social Services, Treasury etc) need to do their part to fight the threat of non-communicable diseases which stem from tobacco, alcohol, over-nutrition and under- exercise.
All governments need to keep up the investment, but not just in the health portfolio. There is stark evidence that investing in the social determinants of health and a good education, starting at birth, are major predictors of health outcomes.
We must be able to talk to each other in the same language -general practice, hospitals (public and private), public outpatients, private specialists, aged and community care. Too often the right message just does not get through. Let's get the (e) rail gauge right and use it.
The fastest way to save health dollars and achieve better outcomes is to (as Professor Lord Ari Darzi advised at the 2012 AMA National Conference) “close the gap between what we know and what we do”. We know we are doing a good job and are very cost effective. If we embrace the move of learned colleges toward clinical audit and self-reflection we can make best practice even better.
The human papillomavirus vaccine will save millions of lives. Research delivered and refined the place of statins, also saving millions of lives. We need new ways of treating infections, perhaps more antibiotics or better ways to use the ones we already have.