Ssshhhh – listen carefully and you’ll undoubtedly hear a lot of noise in Australia right now about ‘self-care’ and ‘preventative health’.
The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) recently released a Position Paper entitled ‘Increasing Access to Medicines to Enhance Self Care’, calling for Government and other stakeholders to make increased access to medicines a “fundamental plank of the emerging health policy landscape” as well as a more patient-centred approach to primary care – so all Australians can take greater control of managing own health where appropriate.
Encouragingly, the Minister for Health & Aging Nicola Roxon has been particularly vocal on the topic of self-care. She’s highlighted the need for industry and key organisations to drive change in preventative health, with reference to the Australian Preventative Health Legislation currently before the parliament and the draft National Primary Health Care Strategy.
Earlier this month, Ms Roxon attended ASMI’s annual conference and reiterated the Rudd Government’s commitment to ensuring Australians have the “support mechanisms” – such as access to medicines and services – to take better control of their own health. She also talked about the need for greater investment in “health literacy”. (Worryingly, half of the Australian population is deemed illiterate within this context).
Nobody can argue there is much conversation, documentation and debate which is a definite step in the right direction. But when are we going to get some action and see policies become practice?
As Ms Roxon rightly reiterated, “good health requires individual and collective action”.
The right tools are in the self-care toolbox; we only need to tweak the way we deploy them. For example, a recent study revealed shifting treatment of the most frequent minor ailments from doctors to pharmacists would free up between 3 and 7 per cent of Australia’s GP workforce.
Do we care about self-care? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Now all stakeholders need to turn talk into tactics; only then can we all really believe the decision makers practice what they preach.