The Public Health Association Australia (PHAA) and several other leading health organisations have written an open letter calling for an urgent focus on the deteriorating health and well-being of South Australians in addition to clear, state-wide strategies to address the problem.
PHAA joined a consortium of health organisations including the South Australian Council of Social Service, Australian Health Promotion Association, Anti-Poverty Network SA, and People’s Health Movement Australia to express serious concern over the soaring rates of non-communicable disease in South Australia, particularly among lower socioeconomic groups.
President of the Public Health Association SA Branch Kate Kameniar said: “We’re calling for urgent action to be taken by a strong leadership with a visible commitment to improving public health. We need the Chief Public Health Officer elevated to lead the focus on prevention and health promotion, as well as significant investment in the health sector and the Health in All Policies initiative.”
“We want to see an evidence-based plan of action that supports all public institutions and places as health-promoting environments. Changing the settings in which we work, live and play can make an enormous difference; whether it’s through increasing physical activity by installing better cycleways and walking paths, encouraging healthier food choices, or creating more smoke-free public zones,” Ms Kameniar said.
CEO of the South Australian Council of Social Service Ross Womersley said: “Recent cuts to funding have reduced the health and community services workforce capacity to an all-time low, and there is now less focus and resources to address preventable causes of illness in the population.
“Chronic diseases caused by obesity, poor nutrition and smoking are severely impacting the health of South Australians, along with inadequate access to health care due to spiralling costs. These problems most affect people who are experiencing higher levels of poverty, who generally have fewer educational qualifications and employment prospects. These are the social determinants of health and it’s why we need a health in all policies approach.
“Given the current financial climate we simply cannot afford to wait, and we urge the state government, the opposition and indeed all political parties, to prioritise the long-term needs of South Australians in their policies as well as reduce ingrained social and health inequalities. This can’t go ignored any longer,” Ms Kameniar said.
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