Nutrition industry lobbies for more inclusion in Oz health policy

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags Complementary medicines Medicine

The Australian complementary health industry lobbied state and territory ministers assembled at a Medicare reform meeting in Canberra last weekend to press for increased policy recognition for natural nutrition.

Carl Gibson, chief executive officer of Complementary Medicines Australia, used the opportunity to emphasise how complementary medicines could contribute to a required preventive health revolution. 

The reforms to deliver tailor-made care packages for individuals need to include a smarter role for preventive health measures​,” he said. 

This is not limited to, but certainly includes, the use of complementary medicines for primary and secondary prevention of illness, and encouraging and empowering all Australians to take better care of their health​.” 

Gibson’s argument is backed up by a Frost & Sullivan report from 2014 which examined the use of six complementary medicines across four chronic disease conditions—cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, age-related macular degeneration and depression, all of which contribute heavily to the national burden of illness in Australia. 

The report estimated that between 2015 and 2020 average annual hospitalisation costs of A$922m (US$695m) could be potentially saved, along with gains in productivity of A$900m.

CMA’s effort is the latest move in a lobbying drive that saw Gibson present a health economics analysis to lawmakers in Parliament House in November.

The report showed that that the use vitamin B3—nicotinamide—could potentially save A$2 in healthcare costs for every A$1 spent. 

It used economic modelling based on the Ontrac study, an Australian research paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine,​ which showed a 23% reduction in the risk of new skin cancers when nicotinamide was given as a supplement.

A greater focus on preventive health is an essential move towards improving the cost- effectiveness of the Australian healthcare system and crucial in taking pressure off over- stretched hospitals​,” added Gibson.

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