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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Government accused of pandemic amnesia

Health Industry Hub | May 15, 2024 |

Pharma News: Recent Budgets have seen the Government attempt to perform a delicate balancing act between spending on essential goods and services and transfer payments while seeking to rein in inflation, and this latest Budget is no exception. Efforts to properly prepare for future pandemics has once again been overlooked in the Federal Budget, prompting strong criticism from the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

“The absence of any budget line item for the Australian Centre for Disease Control (ACDC) suggests pandemic amnesia four years after the lives of everyone in Australia was upended,” asserted PHAA CEO, Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin.

Despite an initial allocation of $90 million over two years in the 2023 budget to establish an Interim ACDC, the agency remains virtually unseen by the public, leaving its future uncertain.

“An ACDC must serve many functions, including leading the national effort to properly prepare for future pandemics, which infectious disease experts have repeatedly warned are likely to happen. 

“We had hoped that this budget would contain clear resource allocation and timelines explaining how and when the Albanese Government would fulfil its election promise to establish and fund the ACDC. That hope has been dashed,” he emphasised.

Reflecting on the significant impact of COVID-19 and the imperative for government action, Professor Slevin stressed the need for a substantial and long-term approach to disease control.

“This budget failed to give certainty to the future of disease control in Australia, which should be our chance to reduce the burden of health threats both known and unknown. As we learned in 2020/21, unless we have a healthy population, we cannot have a healthy economy,” Professor Slevin said.

“This budget kicks the election commitment to establish a real ACDC down the road again. It builds enormous expectations for the pre-election MYEFO – assuming there is one. If not, we fear this vitally important 2022 election commitment to the health of future generations of people in Australia may fail to materialise.” 

Addressing broader health expenditure, Professor Slevin highlighted the disparity in spending on public and preventive health measures, with Australia allocating less than 2% of health spending to this area.

“Investing a mere 5% of health spending in prevention would make a real difference to the health of people in Australia both now and over the long term,” Professor Slevin stated.

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