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#Prevention2020 virtual conference @WePublicHealth

Every week, a different guest tweeter takes charge of Croakey’s rotated, curated Twitter account, @WePublicHealth, and uses the account to cover specific health issues or events.

Last week, Hannah Pierce, President of the Public Health Association of Australia (WA) covered the #Prevention2020 virtual conference.

Highlights include: the success of the community-controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector in preventing the spread of COVID-19, the need for governments to give climate change the same urgency as the pandemic, the harms associated with alcohol and sugar consumption and the many dogs watching the virtual conference along with their owners. Here’s a summary:


Opening sessions

First virtual #Prevention2020 conference opens with a call for ‘can do prevention’ in a volatile world, even more apposite in the time of #COVID19

It’s time to make Public Health more of an election issue. That’s because public health measures save lives, not just one at a time but millions at a time.

@Bowenchris joins #Prevention2020 from Parliament House. He says the focus on health right now due to the #COVID19 pandemic is an opportunity to raise the profile of health issues and make health more of an election issue.

Preventive health has always been paramount. With #COVID19, we’re now seeing the world through preventive health advocates – there’s never been a greater focus on public health & prevention, both locally & internationally – Dr David Russell-Weisz  

Excellent opening keynote address from @WAHealth Director General Dr David Russell Weiss #Prevention2020 Commitment to up preventive health spending from 2% to 5%

Highlights telehealth uptake due to #COVID19 Preventive Health on EVERYONE’S agenda, so resurgence of public health

@tarunwwelcomes everyone to the first live plenary session for #Prevention2020. He says when the conference organising committee came up with the theme ‘Can do prevention: effective action in a volatile world’, he didn’t imagine the world would be this volatile!

Loving the on demand videos! The diversity of the content is great!  

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

The response to the #COVID19 pandemic has seen many important partnerships develop – it’s a shame it’s taken a global pandemic to have that happen! Hopefully they continue in the future – Vicki O’Donnell  

Dr James Muecke tells #Prevention2020 there’s been an 80 fold increase in Type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal people in Australia. What a devastating statistic to have in our country.

We need more money to go in to prevention for mental health, not just more money spent on the acute services. Implementing the Sustainable Health Review recommendations in WA will be really important for the health of Aboriginal people – Vicki O’Donnell

If you have to pay $15 for a cauliflower in a remote community, you’re not going to buy it when you can buy a bucket of chips for much cheaper. Price gauging is a huge problem in our remote communities and it needs to change – Pat Turner

If #COVID19 has done anything, it has highlighted the gaps in social determinants of health that make Aboriginal people vulnerable to poorer health. #prevention2020

Vicki O’Donnell @TheAHCWA thinks the WA border controls should  stay in place until the number of #COVID19 cases on the eastern seaboard are close to zero. It’s essential to protecting our Aboriginal communities.   

Inspired to tears!! Pat #NACCHO is a force to align with, and the hard reality insight of Vicki #AHCWA is mindblowing.

COVID-19 has exposed the fault lines in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health that have existed for a long time. Including housing, education, food security.

There is every risk we could get a second wave of #COVID19 in WA, & we need plans for how we would handle an outbreak. If you have a positive test in an Aboriginal community, there would be many close contacts due to remoteness & over-crowding – Vicki O’Donnell  

What makes @NACCHOAustralia so successful?

  1. Comprehensive, culturally secure model of primary care,
  2. Addresses holistic health needs,
  3. Focuses on local responses,
  4. Empowers locals in decision making, and
  5. Lead by a selected community board. #prevention2020

@TheAHCWA  says the Aboriginal medical services have done exceptionally well with very few positive #COVID19 tests and no deaths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people in Australia  

Pat Turner CEO @NACCHOAustralia says they were under no illusion of the devastation #COVID19 would have on Aboriginal communities. They knew the risk, & what they would need to do to prevent #COVID19 spreading in the at-risk communities  

Pat Turner CEO @NACCHOAustralia tells #Prevention2020 she’s incredibly proud of the Aboriginal community controlled health services for all the heavy lifting they do, including during the #COVID19 pandemic.

Aboriginal West Australians experience a significant gap in life expectancy

Climate change

#COVID19 is an opportunity & a threat to action on climate change. We need to make sure what comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic protects health in the long term

The child born today does not have to grow up in a world that is 4C hotter and with all those other [climate change] effects. They can grow up in a city that is built around people, not cars. There is a choice.

The life of every child born today will be profoundly impacted by climate change. But a second path is possible – by limiting the global average temp rise to well below 2C.

Limiting global temperature rises to below 2 degrees is possible. There’s been investment in new coal, improvements in air pollution from Europe, positive signs from the transport industry, & changes in the health sector.

The whole point of the Lancet Countdown endeavour is to make climate change a health issue. If we ask a nurse or a doctor about tobacco, they’ll say it affects their work –

@watts_nick wants the same response when you ask health professionals about climate change

It’s so important that the health profession is involved in the climate change discussions, as it’s no longer a technical, economic, or financial question about whether we respond to climate change – it’s a political one.

@watts_nick says the work of the Climate Health WA Inquiry is world leading and it’s important to acknowledge that

Three key points @watts_nick wants us to take away:

1) Climate change is impacting every single person around the world. Every country is impacted, though the impacts are disproportionate.

2) We’ve known this for decades.

3) There are opportunities for action

Our best buys to tackling climate change – phase out #coal

Australia is responsible for 7% of global emissions – because we export 1/3 of the worlds coal consumption. Unbelievable for a country with such a small population    

@NHS_uk is focusing on the short term issue of COVID-19 while also focusing on the long term issue of climate change – there are lessons to be learnt by Australia and other countries around the world.   The UK government is investing £2 billion to support walking and cycling to respond to COVID-19  

@Bowenchris  acknowledges that there are a lot of sensible people in politics who want action on climate change, but doesn’t paint an optimistic picture of political will in Australia.

@watts_nick reminds us that there is movement from some govts around the globe

Great point made by @Bowenchris – we’ve been guided by the evidence on COVID-19, let’s be guided by the evidence on climate change & impact on health, and drive policy accordingly.

The technology is ready

The money is available

Economics are on our side

It is not a matter of economics, financials, or technical. It is entirely a question of politics when it comes to climate change

The Australian health system & health systems around the globe were not built for a world that will be 4 degrees hotter. We will see reduced crops & increased food insecurity, increased infectious disease transmission, increased wildfires.

We need to make climate change real to the people that it’s affecting now, not in 2100! From an increase in temperature to bush fires to food insecurity, it affects us all –

Part of the reason for success in health in Australia is because the people that matter believe in the science. We don’t have that same belief in the science in Australia yet when it comes to climate change.

Alcohol harms

Public health groups & policy makers should be alert to the explicit as well as subtle ways that the alcohol industry seek to embed themselves in policy processes  

Governments continue to view alcohol industry as legitimate informants on alcohol policy, in contrast to the accepted need to protect tobacco policy from industry influence  

An #alcohol ad every 35 seconds: a snapshot of how the #alcohol industry is using a global pandemic as a marketing opportunity.

Dr Russell-Weiss reminds us of the health profile of Australians.

– Chronic diseases are responsible for 73% of deaths in Australia.

– 1/3 of Australians drink at levels that put them at risk of long-term harm  

“…we will also one day have effective pregnancy warning labels on ALL alcohol products” Clapping hands sign Raising hands cheering from my home office @RogerCookMLA

@RogerCookMLA has been working so hard to get effective mandatory pregnancy warning labels introduced in Australia – “while I’m still fighting the fight, I’m buoyed by the hope that one day we will have effective pregnancy warning label on all alcohol products. But we will need your help to make that a reality”

Call to action for all public health professionals – contact your health minister to tell them you want effective, mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcohol in Australia!  

Sugar consumption

Some nice advocacy from Dr James Muecke – he wrote to a dentistry and medical school at a university about the unhealthy, sugary products in the vending machines in the building. The products are being replaced with healthier options  

30% of junk food in supermarkets is on sale – it makes sugar readily accessible to Australians. Sugar is everywhere says Dr James Muecke 

The 5 A’s when it comes to sugar.

1) Sugar is highly addictive

2) We use sugar to alleviate stress in our lives

3) Sugar is easily accessible – it’s everywhere

4) Lots of sugar is added to our food & drinks

5) Our world is flooded with ads

– Dr James Muecke  

Loving this pathology lesson on the impacts of sugar on Type 2 Diabetes with Dr James Muecke at the virtual @_PHAA_conference. Taking me back to my undergrad days

Other issues

Two of @Live_Lighter crew @ellenhart28 and @jenatkins198 nailed “on demand” presentations showcasing the breadth of LiveLighter’s comprehensive approach in WA. Not possible without ongoing commitment from @WAHealth

WA Government health systems have rapidly adapted to #COVID19. There’s been good collaboration and co-operation between government agencies, private sector, and NGOs   

“While there will be no winners from this coronavirus crisis, it will at least serve as a catalyst for a public health appreciation of the value of preventive public health” @RogerCookMLA

@terryslevin says virtual conference means greater access for rural and remote. I would add parents (and others with caring responsibilities) and students to that list.    

A special @_PHAA_President’s Award has been announced for the members of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee in recognition of all their hard work in keeping Australians safe during the #COVID19 pandemic

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