Both times that there has been a HSC exam question on this topic the question has focused on “why is it important to prioritise?” and for good reason. The question “why is it important to prioritise?” really brings together the content for the dot point “identifying priority health issues”.
Firstly, it is important to prioritise because it helps to ensure fair allocation of resources and funding. Note, this is not equal, but fair. Applying the principles of social justice (equity, diversity and supportive environments) enables us to identify priority population groups and seek to provide funding and resources to create supportive environments so that they are empowered to take ownership and act to improve their own health.
Secondly, it is important to ensure that money and resources are not wasted. Providing large amounts of money to the wealthy for health, is not going to have a great impact on the health outcomes of Australian’s as a whole. Instead, the principles of social justice and priority population groups are identified. Furthermore, funding must go towards diseases that are prevalent in society and that have a large cost on the individual and community. If resources and funding are allocated to prevalent but non-high-cost issues, such as a sprained ankle, the impact is minimal on health outcomes. However, allocating these to prevalent and high-cost issues such as CVD, Cancer, Diabetes, or dementia will help ensure the greatest impact of the resources and funding.
The final consideration for the importance of prioritising health issues is to ensure that we target issues that can be prevented or where early intervention has a large impact on the cost of the disease for both individuals and the community. If we prioritise issues where early intervention has no effect on health outomces and that cannot be prevented, then resources and money are wasted. We need to ensure we prioritise health issues where prevention is possible (type II diabetes) or where early intervention has a large impact on health outcomes (cancer). Australia do this through campaigns that target the food we eat, and by providing Government funded cancer screening programs (prostate and breast).
Therefore, it is important for Australia to prioritise the health issues to ensure that resources and funding are not wasted and to ensure we are moving towards fair and equitable health for all Australians. Prioritising health issues ensures the greatest impact of the health promotion on Australia’s health.