AMA VICDOC SPRING 2021 - Flipbook - Page 40
AMA VISION FOR
REPORT DR OMAR KHORSHID
AMA FEDERAL PRESIDENT
This is an excerpt of a speech delivered to the
National Press Club by AMA Federal President,
Dr Omar Khorshid on 9 June 2021.
his is my first address at the National
Press Club, but not the first given by an
AMA President. In fact, every year an AMA
President stands here, at this lectern, and tries
to convince you – our nation’s media, our policy
makers, ministers, governments and parliaments
that health really is the best investment we can
make in our society and for our economy.
We were always vying for attention among
the other portfolios – defence, national security,
industry. Times have changed. Health is now a key
consideration of the Prime Minister, Treasurer
In any pre-COVID period, I’d also be following
in the well-trodden steps of past Presidents calling
for more medical practitioners to be involved
in policy making. They are at the coalface; they
should be given a voice in policy decisions that
shape our country’s health services.
Now, arguably, the nation’s Chief Health Officers
– doctors – are the key policy makers. One of
them is now also the Secretary of the Federal
Department of Health. A doctor running the health
department. What will they think of next?
But there are things we must keep from this
experience. The focus on health, the listening
to experts, the overcoming of entrenched
bureaucratic hurdles, must be retained.
This evolution in health policy is also our best
defence against future pandemics – be they
similar to COVID-19, or the pandemic that we’ve
grown accustomed to and all too complacent
with, chronic disease.
That’s why today I’m not going to talk anymore
about COVID. Instead, I want to lift our eyes
beyond the immediate and focus on a healthier
future for all Australians. I want to propose a goal
of Australia becoming the healthiest country in
the world. We’re not number one and with our
increasing burden of chronic disease – obesity in
particular – we risk sliding down the rankings.
AMA VI C TO RIA
If this new paradigm of quicker decision-making
is going to be utilised effectively in the AMA’s goal
of becoming the healthiest country in the world,
we’re going to need a plan. So today I’m releasing
the AMA’s Vision for Australia’s Health. It is a
detailed policy-based strategy and I believe we can
start to implement it right now.
The beginning point of all reform should be
safe, high quality, patient-centred care. Our plan
is built around a set of core principles and covers
five pillars of detailed policy reform.
Our first pillar of health reform is general
practice. If we are to have any hope of stemming
the tide of chronic disease in our nation, we
need to bolster this first line of defence. Chronic
disease dominates the Australian health
landscape, contributing nearly two-thirds of the
overall burden of disease and data suggests 67
per cent of Australian adults – that’s 13.4 million
– are obese or overweight. This translates into
enormous direct healthcare costs in managing
diabetes, heart disease and cancer, the biggest
killers in our society.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples these figures are even higher, at 74 per
cent of adults and 38 percent of children who
are overweight or obese.
According to AIHW data, 7 per cent of all
hospitalisations are due to 22 preventable
conditions – preventable conditions that could
often be managed by general practice. In reality
its likely to be much more than that. We can, and
must, do something about this.
We also have a rapidly ageing population and
whilst currently people over 65 represent only
16 per cent of the population, they account for
50 per cent of all public hospital admitted
Critical to dealing with the healthcare needs of
older Australians – especially if we want to stop
the flow of unnecessary hospital transfers – is
to ensure greater access to GPs. That is why the