Australia spends more than $130 billion each year on health, approximately 9.2% of our GDP. The outcome of this and other investments is that our life expectancy puts us very high on the global “league table”.
The aim of the Health Equity theme is to promote sustainable, healthy, fairer societies in Australia and in the Asia Pacific region. Drawing on the strengths of researchers at the University of Melbourne, this theme will focus on three interdisciplinary areas for which there are clear co-benefits for both community wellbeing and the environment.
The theme is comprised of three topics:
- Sustainable Health Promotion - how we can improve health pro-actively, before the development of certain diseases, by fostering healthier lifestyles and practices;
- Sustainable Disease Prevention - how we can reduce the burden of disease on both the individual and on society by preventing the progression of diseases, whether by cure or by slowing/limiting the course of diseases, and how we need to address the challenges that climate change and other societal pressures are making on our health;
- Sustainable Health Services - how we should structure our health systems to best serve the health needs of all the communities that make up our society, and why we need to do so equitably and with respect to our impact on the environment.
These three topics represent a continuum from promoting community wellbeing to preventing and then treating illness, with sustainability as an overarching principle. Their significance will vary according to the location of a community- for instance the emphasis will be vastly different for rural Victoria (see the McCaughey Centre) compared to the issues for a small village in the Asia Pacific region. The time frame matters too, for example, longer term issues such as addressing climate change will be crucial for the protection of the health of large populations in the Asia Pacific region (see the Nossal Institute).
The Health Equity theme within the Melbourne Sustainability Society Institute aims to foster research on these important public health issues. Its goal is to integrate the health sector with the broader university community to tackle these complex and interconnected problems.
Conference overview: Creating Healthy Sustainable Societies II - Nov 2012