My first reaction, after an admittedly cursory speed-read, is that one of the key themes/motherhood statements of the report is sadly lacking.
The report repeatedly mentions the need for all of us – “people, families, communities, health professionals, employers and governments” – to individually and collectively take responsibility for our health.
I was struck that a large sector, with a huge influence over our health, is missing from that statement. What about business?
The report implies that the business sector matters only to our health in so far as being employers. Of course employers are important, and not only as agents for health promotion, but also in providing workplaces that are family friendly and healthy in the broadest sense.
But business has a far bigger health impact than simply as employers.
Businesses shape our environments and our ability to make healthy choices, through the products they make and market. The sectors that immediately come to mind are the alcohol and junk food industries and marketers (and I don’t just mean the McDonald’s of the world, just take a walk down the aisle of any supermarket). Then there’s the businesses that develop suburbs in ways that are bad for the health of individuals, communities and the environment. You get the gist, I’m sure.
Leaving the business sector out of the discussion doesn’t only let the anti-health brigade off the hook; it also means that health misses an opportunity for engagement with constructive elements of this sector.
Another major omission from the report is any serious critique of the Federal Government’s billion dollar spend on subsidies for the private health insurance industry. But, somehow, that omission doesn’t come as any surprise.