Is Australia health-smart?

The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) has called for a national check on health literacy.

In submitting its pre-budget submission to the Federal Government, the ASMI called for greater investment in self-care, the elevation of health literacy to a national priority and incentives to increase access to medicines.

ASMI is the peak body representing the non-prescription medicines industry and strives to advance consumer health through responsible self-care.

ASMI CEO Dr Deon Schoombie.said “the last ABS survey in 2006 found that 60% of Australians had inadequate health literacy which, in our opinion, is simply unacceptable.

“Improving the health literacy of Australians needs to become a national priority, with attention from all levels of government and key stakeholders.

“We need to know the current state of health literacy in Australia and invest in national and local projects to empower communities and individuals to improve their own health literacy and enhance their own health and wellbeing.”

Greater health literacy leads to greater self-care, which in turn enhances the health and wellbeing of an individual. Having adequate health literacy means that an individual is able to seek appropriate help when required, identify ailments that they can self-treat, read medicine labels, understand medicine advertisements and make informed decisions.

ASMI also called upon the government to invest more in self-care research, prioritise early intervention and preventive health funding, and increase access to medicines through data protection and IP measures for ‘switch’ applicants.

“The evidence base for self-care in Australia needs to grow and the long-term benefits of preventive health funding are compelling,” Dr Schoombie said.

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