Experts call for national report card to meet WHO targets

THE creation of a national health report card, centred on a set of new targets and monitoring of disadvantaged groups, is being urged to reduce the burden of chronic disease and deaths in Australia.

The proposals formed the crux of a major report released on Wednesday that took input from more than 70 health experts to help guide the Turnbull government's approach to health.

Modelled on the World Health Organization's global action plan, the report sets out new targets to reduce chronic disease in seven categories, including alcohol, salt and tobacco use; physical inactivity and mental health.

The report showed Australia was lagging behind WHO targets in many areas, from obesity rates to binge drinking and a lack of exercise.

It urged the government consider age-standardised targets for each area, as well as weight targets for adults and children.

The report also urged efforts to reduce cancer, asthma and cardiovascular disease deaths.

One target was a 10% fall in harmful alcohol use by 2025, from 2011 levels, by changes to pricing and limiting availability and promotion.

The Australian Health Policy Collaboration report fills a gap, as government reporting programs cover existing targets and do not suggest new targets or methods on how to reach them.

AHPC director Rosemary Calder said the report included the "most knowledgable minds in Australian health" and they had agreed the need to address the risk factors driving chronic disease rates was "urgent".

"It's not just a health issue - the combined healthcare costs and lost productivity caused by these diseases create a huge economic burden," she said.

To reach the goals, the report urged efforts be focused on a long-term strategy including a national health report card and "health surveillance".

That surveillance should include specialised monitoring and intervention for disadvantaged groups.

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