Having been invited, along with other industry groups, to submit recommendations for inclusion in the budget, Carl Gibson, chief executive of Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) focused on how a more supported approach towards preventative healthcare could help keep the country’s growing medical costs in check.
Preventative better than cure
He said complementary medicines hold enormous potential to contribute to a sustainable healthcare system that focuses on prevention of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and stroke, which are largely preventable.
In 2013, over A$140bn (US$109bn) was spent on healthcare services—equivalent to nearly 9.1% of Australia’s total gross domestic product.
“In a supportive environment, the complementary medicines industry is one that has the ability to grow exponentially, to support local innovation-rich manufacturing, research and development, and to provide a significant contribution to Australian jobs and exports,” said Gibson.
“Surely, figures such as these not only ring Treasury alarm bells, but also highlight the urgent need for a new approach to health policy and practice. Simply reducing health funding will not prevent people from becoming unwell.”
To fully recognise the value that complementary medicines can contribute to both the Australian economy and to public health, CMA is advocating for three key budget priorities.
First, it is calling for a regulatory environment that is “commensurate with the low level of risk complementary medicines represent”. It also recommends a renewed focus on preventative healthcare, and greater encouragement and support of innovation through investment in research.
Government has been largely sympathetic
Rather than implementing a health system that would only care for those who could afford to pay, there should be a new focus on a “fairer long-term solution” which would assist all Australians to remain healthy, said Gibson.
The deadline for individuals, businesses, and community groups to provide their views ahead of the budget is February 6. The complementary healthcare industry believes the Abbott government has been positive towards their business.
Last year, complementary healthcare was among the industries featured on the government’s red-tape-cutting agenda.
This year’s budget will “continue the government's commitment to repair the budget” and enhance productivity through investment and reform,” said Treasurer Joe Hockey.