Australia cannot afford repeated disasters on the scale of COVID-19, whether they are triggered by the next pandemic, or from the rising chronic disease epidemic. One in five Australians have multiple chronic conditions.
The rise in chronic disease prevalence makes people less healthy and less prepared for future pandemics of flu and other emerging infections. The high prevalence of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, have been a major contributor to the increased risk of hospitalisation, intubation, and death due to COVID-19, worldwide.
Funding prevention not only saves lives, it saves money; every dollar invested in evidence-based prevention programs yields a greater return on investment than treatment.
The next government must increase prevention investment to 5% of total annual health expenditure, and establish a clear mechanism for funding allocation and reporting.