AFGC looking for “real value” out of National Preventative Health Agency

Posted by Isobel Drake on 20th November 2009

Australia’s food and grocery industry has urged the Senate to pass a Bill to establish a new National Preventative Health Agency, the Australian Food and Grocery Council has advised.

Introduced into the Senate yesterday, the National Preventative Health Agency Bill is designed to spearhead public health campaigns against obesity, alcohol abuse and smoking. The agency was a key recommendation of the Government’s National Preventive Health Taskforce strategy released in September.

AFGC Deputy Chief Executive Geoffrey Annison noted that, while industry supported more effective preventative health measures in Australia, the Government needs to ensure that the new agency provided real value to all Australians on this critical public health issue.

“The new National Preventative Health Agency must make a difference otherwise there’s no point in having yet another arm of Government for addressing this important issue of preventative health,” Dr Annison said. “We need to ensure that this new agency delivers comprehensive national programs to boost Australia’s capacity to combat preventable diseases. Also, it must not duplicate the activities of other agencies including the NHMRC and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.”

The proposed independent, government-funded agency will be responsible for preventative health advertising, policy advice, health surveillance, consultation and research. It will begin on January 1 next year and be staffed by government-appointed health experts.

“Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing sector welcomes preventative health challenges and has already made strong inroads in these areas with a number of voluntary measures including front of pack food labelling, an advertising to children initiative and the reduction of salt and trans-fats in processed foods,” Dr Annison suggested.

Dr Annison added that there was no quick fix solution for the growing levels of obesity and chronic disease in Australia.

“We will only reverse this trend with a comprehensive and strategic approach involving governments, industry, the community and individuals. We all have to commit to make Australia healthier, whether in the workplace, at school or home.”