Call to fund schemes to prevent poor health

HEALTH advocates have criticised the two major political parties for staying ``disturbingly quiet'' on preventative health in the lead up to the election.

Tasmania Medicare Local chief executive Phil Edmondson said neither party had addressed Tasmania's preventative health and primary care needs, or the difficult decisions that awaited the next state government.

Mr Edmondson said that after ``years of neglect'' around health promotion, primary and community-based care, the state was faced with an ageing population, fragmented health care and rising chronic disease.

``Unfortunately the balance is shifting too far towards tertiary investment and we're failing to do what needs to be done to stop people getting into hospital,'' he said.

Social Determinants of Health Advocacy Network convener Miriam Herzfeld said health would consume the entire state budget if there was no significant, long-term investment in preventative health.

``If we don't do that we're going to be in an absolutely diabolical situation, not only funding wise, but the quality of services will go downhill,'' she said.

Mr Edmondson said the next state government would have to take greater responsibility for preventative health, particularly when the federally-funded Tasmanian Health Assistance Package ran out in 2016.

``I haven't heard anybody disagree with the fact that major structural reform decisions need to be made,'' Mr Edmondson said.

``For the first time, everybody is saying the same thing.''

Mr Edmondson joined the Australian Medical Association Tasmania in calling for the introduction of a single-funder model and a long-term health strategy stretching beyond a single electoral cycle, saying they were essential first steps to address service gaps.

Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne said Labor had a strong track record in investing in preventative health, with initiatives including the Move Well Eat Well program in schools and childcare centres, a health information and coaching service, and the Health and Wellbeing Advisory Council.

Opposition spokesman for health Jeremy Rockliff said the Liberals wanted to tackle poor public health outcomes, and make Tasmania the healthiest population in Australia by 2025.

Both said they would have more to say on health in the lead up to the election.


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