CONSULTATION: National Preventive Strategy Submission
Painaustralia provided input to inform the consultation on the draft National Preventive Heath Strategy.
Pain management is at the intersection of emerging and contemporary challenges, including improving access to better healthcare, the rise in chronic pain conditions, ageing population and the prevalence of chronic conditions overall which may lead to social and economic exclusion.
Our submission notes that the prevention of the onset of chronic pain conditions must be a central tenet of the prevention strategy.
Overall, Painaustralia is supportive of the National Preventive Health Strategy and acknowledges the key role that prevention must play as a strategy under the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management. Given that both the Strategy and the Action Plan require a public health management approach and crucial government leadership for a whole-of-society response, it is vital that both can be implemented in tandem to complement and support common objectives. This is important to ensuring collective and sustained action on two significant public health issues.
Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements
Painaustralia provided input to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. Our submission noted the challenges, mainly that many Australians living with pain are already unable to access high-quality pain assessment and management, whether due to cost, geographic barriers, low awareness of treatment options, or lack of access to health professionals with the right knowledge and skills. The events of 2020, starting with the bushfires and following with the pandemic and opioid regulatory reforms have had a major impact.
These challenges have now been amplified for people living with chronic pain, whose starting point before the epidemic was already compromised. Add in the effects of natural disasters and disruptive events like the pandemic, and many people living with pain are at crisis point. Social isolation is exacerbated, work opportunities are scarce, and access to healthcare has become more difficult. Even physical activity, so important in managing pain, is becoming more challenging to access.
We highlight that our preparatory response must ensure patients have access to resources that support them through times of disaster when treatments they need to achieve quality of life are inaccessible. To mitigate the harms to this vulnerable population group from future natural disasters, it is important to reinforce the critical role that access to evidence-based pain management services can and will play in addressing these issues.
In Australia, the National Strategic Action Plan for Pain Management provides the blueprint for a broader system response to chronic pain. Specifically, the overarching gaps in pain management represent similar systemic barriers that need to be addressed both as a part of our overarching approach to healthcare and as a preparatory and preventative aspect in light of natural disasters.