The recently released State of Public Health 2018 report paints a bleak picture.
Released every five years by the Health Department, the report draws on a range of data to describe the health of Tasmanians and the factors that influence health and wellbeing.
Acknowledging some improvements, including a decline in teenage pregnancy; smoking rates among teenagers and pregnant women; and harmful patterns of alcohol consumption, by nearly all measures Tasmania still ranks poorly when compared to other states.
Preventative health: what's the cost?
Health Minister Michael Ferguson claims the state government spends about $70 million on preventative health. But where is it?
The figure represents about 1.5 per cent of the government's total health spend. Over forward estimates, it decreases to about 1.15 per cent.
However, stakeholders argue the proportion should be closer to 5 per cent.
The Examiner asked for a breakdown of where the $70 million was allocated. It was a similar request made by the Labor Party during budget estimates.
The question was put on notice, and the response provided to the Opposition similar to what was received by The Examiner.
Mr Ferguson said the estimated $70 million was invested in preventative health related activities across government agencies and businesses, including: community programs aimed at increasing participation and physical activity rates and various staff health and wellbeing programs, health promotion, mental health promotion, investment in PCYCs and supporting participation in sports, as well as activity undertaken by the Department of Health through public health services.
He said it also included targeted investments made through the government's $6.4 million Healthy Tasmania plan, with further funding of $1.1 million from 2020-21 included in the budget.
However, Labor health spokeswoman Sarah Lovell said it was clear Mr Ferguson did not take preventative health seriously.
"The Liberals' underinvestment makes a mockery of their promises to make Tasmania the healthiest state in the country by 2025," she said.
"It is clear that the $70 million is a made up figure, and that Michael Ferguson - even with the luxury of taking the question on notice - is unable to answer the question."
Mr Ferguson said the government did recognise the importance of preventative health measures, evident in the establishment of the Healthy Tasmania Five Year Strategic Plan with "significant extra funding".
"The budget is not a magic pudding," he said.
"Five per cent of the health budget is $405 million, and redirecting this amount of funding would mean cutting acute services and massive hospital bed closures. "That's why we want every player including every Tasmanian to help us in achieving better personal health."
On Monday, Mr Ferguson promoted the government's third round of Healthy Tasmania funding.
From July 1, community groups will be able to apply for grants of up to $200,000 aimed at encouraging grassroots action on improving health outcomes.
However, stakeholders argue the level of funding will fail to empower the action needed to turn Tasmania's health outcomes around.
Heart Foundation Tasmania chief executive Graeme Lynch, who is also chairman of the government's Health and Wellbeing Advisory Council, said while the Healthy Tasmania Plan was a good plan, its investment remained "underpowered".
"Everybody is screaming for money. But health and wellbeing ... it must be the principle concern of our population," he said.
"To have a population that is healthy, that can live to its maximum potential. From that everything else flows. It just needs a proportionate investment, and at the moment it is just too low."
My Lynch said without greater investment, the government's goal of becoming the healthiest state in Australia by 2025 would not be achievable.
Catch up on The Examiner's State of Health series
- RACT boss Harvey Lennon shares his motivation for increasing physical activity
- Tasmania's biggest killer heart disease
- How Tasmanian nurse practitioners are filling the diabetes care gaps
- The Launceston program making an impact on physical inactivity
- The diabetes patients informing practice and care in Northern Tasmania