Wednesday, 6 December 2017
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) cardiovascular disease (CVD) and its most common form, heart disease, causes one-fifth of all deaths in Australia, and it affects more Australians than any other disease,
(ii) inequality is rife in CVD, with the huge impact of this disease disproportionately borne by those already facing socio-economic disadvantage, those in remote locations, women, and those with lack of access to health services and, most significantly, for Indigenous Australians, as made clear in a report earlier this year by the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence to Reduce Inequality in Heart Disease, The Heart of Inequality,
(iii) an estimated 970 000 Australians (13% of 45 to 74 year olds) are at high risk of a CVD event within the next five years and many are receiving suboptimal care—heart health checks have not been incorporated well in routine general practice and Australia's performance on CVD risk reduction compares poorly with that of other countries, and
(iv) recent work by a network of leading Australian health experts and organisations, with the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, a public policy 'think tank' at Victoria University, has compiled the evidence for a national screening program for all Australians to directly reduce preventable cardiovascular disease for all and, particularly, for those groups that are most at risk; and
(b) calls on the Government to implement the recommendations of the recent report, Heart Health: the first step to Getting Australia's Health on Track, for a national screening program to be implemented as an urgent priority, comprising:
(i) a national screening program to promote uptake of the heart health screening tool, Absolute Cardiovascular Risk Assessment, through promotion, training and decision-support software for all general practices,
(ii) amendment of the current Medicare Benefits Schedule health assessment items to include Absolute Cardiovascular Risk Assessment, with a management plan for all assessed as at risk,
(iii) establishment of a target for population coverage rates, and with a national aim to achieve assessment of more than 90% of 45 to 74 year olds within five years, and
(iv) the involvement of Primary Health Networks in the support of general practices and through public annual reporting on the population assessed in their areas.
The Australian government currently provides a range of services and support for cardiovascular disease through Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. In addition, we've announced record investment of over $96 million in the National Health and Medical Research Council for cardiovascular disease and have invested $15 million in the Healthy Heart Initiative that was announced in this year's budget.
The whole point of this motion is not for the government to be able to reiterate the funding support that it's providing to specific cardiovascular initiatives. This is specifically addressed at a prevention proposal—a proposal that would ensure that we have a cardiovascular risk screening tool that's used in much the same way as we conduct mammogram screening and in the same way as we conduct screening around cervical cancer and screening around other significant illnesses, like bowel cancer. This is a screening tool designed to apply to all Australians when they visit their primary healthcare practitioner to make sure that we prevent the emergence of complications from cardiovascular disease, not simply treat it once people have developed it.