Representation matters. As a series of Croakey articles about the new National Preventive Health Strategy has made clear, it is not only who is at the table that matters, but the topics that are on the agenda, and how they are framed.
The Croakey team is encouraging readers and social media followers to use the hashtag #PreventiveHealthStrategy when sharing content on Twitter that may help to broaden the focus of the strategy’s development.
A selection of tweets follows below. We will be monitoring the hashtag, so please jump onboard to contribute to a wider representation of the issues affecting health and health equity.
The thread continues:
“That’s fine. We certainly need individual behaviour change, it’s most of what I do clinically. But after seeing someone for 15-30 minutes, they go straight back to the environment that decides their health. This is where a Preventive Health Strategy needs to do its work too.
So for someone to have effective preventive health interventions clinically, they need… a stable environment a home enough money affordable healthy food meaningful work supportive friendships and family.
And all our health is improved by… Effective climate action, Reduced inequality
An effective Preventive Health Strategy will be effective for the sort of people that aren’t like Health Minister Greg Hunt, or the sort of people who get onto Preventive Health Strategy Steering Committees! Fortunately, those on the committee know that!
So I am optimistic that the Preventive Health Strategy Steering Committee will put great store on the words “…broader causes of poor health,” and make sure they really do talk about that.
(Though I am perhaps less optimistic that the Strategy will result in Health Impact Statements for a whole range of government policies, which then influence those policies. I’m a naive optimist, but not that naive!)”
Other tweets highlighted the importance of action on the interconnected public health threats of the climate crisis, systems of injustice, and other determinants of health such as racism and poverty.
Writing in MJA Insight, Dr Sandro Galea, a physician, epidemiologist, author and Dean at Boston University School of Public Health, says:
No matter how great our hospitals or advanced our technology, health is limited by the world in which people live.
The first step is to change the way we talk about health, at a grassroots as well as at a policy level.
Seeing health for what it is, a result of factors embedded in everyday life, is just as important as investing a new hospital or magnetic resonance imaging machine.”
(Galea recently visited Sydney and Melbourne as a guest of the The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.)
More reading is here.