State's poor health fires calls for inquiry revival

Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest

Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest

HEALTH groups are pushing for the revival of an abandoned joint select committee on preventative health care after new figures revealed that Tasmania had the country's highest rate of cardiovascular disease.

Politicians from all major parties took verbal and written submissions from government and community organisations over about six months last year, in an attempt to gauge the state's preventative health care needs.

Health figures hoped the committee would galvanise action on preventative health in a state where 65.5 per cent of adults are overweight or obese, 69.4 per cent of adults are insufficiently active, 21.8 per cent of adults smoke, and hospitalisation rates are increasing.

Although the committee received and heard all submissions, it did not release its final report before the election.

Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest, who chaired the committee, said she would put a motion to re-establish the committee up for debate on Tuesday.

Ms Forrest said several former members would have to be replaced, due to election changes, and the committee would have to take submissions again due to significant changes in health.

"For example, one of the big things that came up last time was the need for one THO [Tasmanian Health Organisation], but that's now been addressed," Mrs Forrest said.

She said if the motion was supported, it would be up to the House of Assembly to debate.

Heart Foundation Tasmania chief executive Graeme Lynch said it was important the committee's work was completed, as it could be a valuable resource for the state government in its aim to create the healthiest state by 2025.

Social Determinants of Health Network facilitator Miriam Herzfeld echoed Mr Lynch, saying the health system's challenges wouldn't be resolved until the state's preventative health needs were addressed.

"This inquiry had the potential to make some really strong and relevant recommendations in relation to a cross-government response, and really putting health front and centre of what we do," Ms Herzfeld said.

"We just have to keep reminding them that we don't want to lose it."

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