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A health election? If so, what's absent is serious national disease prevention

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So far at least, we're in an election campaign largely about health. That's a good thing.

The Coalition has announced some measures on mental health, although not transformative, as part of its otherwise small spending budget. Labor is offering more, focusing on cancer with promises to reduce out-of-pocket costs for cancer patients.

These efforts are no doubt very welcome, but doing more to prevent cancer and mental health problems occurring should be a high priority. The emphasis needs to shift from diagnosis and treatment to prevention.

More investment is needed in preventative health initatiaves.

We have a mountain to climb. We are seeing increases in chronic diseases, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, stroke dementia and more. This is largely due to more people getting older because we are doing better in safety (for example, in transport) and treating acute health problems more successfully.

So we'll have to manage, and find money to pay for, more older people being diagnosed with chronic diseases that are caused by largely preventable factors.

Smoking rates are still over 10 per cent, despite 50 years of strong tobacco control. The Coalition announced $20 million in the April budget for an "anti-smoking campaign over four years". It's light-on but a start. Labor has committed double........

© Canberra Times