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Comprehensive primary health care and social determinants as top priorities

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Make everyone more equal and good health will follow

Compared with other countries, Australia does very well in terms of health. We rank second in terms of life expectancy, reflecting our level of education, housing and living standards. We have a health system many envy — based on universal public health insurance. And yet, there is room for improvement.

Evidence suggests that more equal societies are healthier.1 An explicit goal of the next Australian federal government, therefore, should be reducing health inequities. To achieve this, vastly improved coordination of primary health care (PHC) services is needed. In addition, the new government’s agenda should prioritise action to improve the social determinants of health.2 By improving community health overall, our continually increasing and economically unsustainable health care costs that are excessively focused on hospital care will be reduced.

The World Health Organization has stated that health systems should be built on the basis of a strong, comprehensive PHC system.3,4 Such a system…