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Leading think tank calls for Australian Health Survey repeat in 2021

The Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) at Victoria University has welcomed the release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Health Survey Evaluation 2011-13.

The report clearly highlights the significance and benefits of the country’s largest and most comprehensive health data survey ever collected and reported.

A national collaboration of 70 leading chronic disease experts, facilitated by the AHPC, has called for Federal Government commitment to repeat the Australian Health Survey in 2021 in a bid to stem the rising tide of chronic disease.

AHPC Director Professor Rosemary Calder said having such high-quality national data is invaluable – especially to services, policy makers, researchers – but so far there has been no commitment to repeat this survey.

“This survey needs to be undertaken again in 2021, and at regular intervals thereafter, to ensure routine comprehensive health surveillance for chronic disease. It provides essential biomedical, nutrition and physical activity data vital to the nation’s health” she said.

“About half of all Australians have a chronic disease and around 20 per cent have at least two. These diseases are responsible for nine out of every ten deaths nationwide.”

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease account for three quarters of all deaths due to chronic disease.

The Australian Health Survey 2011-13 provides baseline data which allows for long- term tracking of the prevalence of health risks and risk factors. The evaluation highlights how the survey data has provided unique information about the prevalence of, and risk factors for, chronic disease – especially on the significant impact of nutrition and physical activity on health.

“This baseline and an additional national data set in 2021 will be an essential resource to plan for and support a healthier Australia,” Professor Calder said. “Now is the time to plan for a 2021 survey – building from the lessons highlighted in the evaluation.”

A policy paper will be realised shortly outlining the evidence and urgent need for a commitment to an Australian Health Survey in 2021.

About AHPC

AHPC is a health policy and research think tank that promotes and supports a national policy agenda for the prevention and management of chronic diseases. Professor Calder is a leading health and social policy expert with expertise in chronic health and prevention. She is available for interview.

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