Why a preventive approach?
Australia's population in 2004 was 20 million people. Of these, 13% were aged 70 years or over. By 2020, the population is estimated to be 23-24 million, with 15-20% in this older age group. Over the past 2 decades, governments and health care providers have become increasingly concerned about the steady increase in demand for health care and our capacity as a nation to provide quality services to meet that demand. 2,3 Demand for all types of medical provision exceeds the availability of services.4,5
One of the most compelling and sustainable responses is to implement strategies that reduce the burden of sickness in our community rather than just provide more care. We need to design and implement strategies that help maintain good health, prevent illness, and intervene quickly and effectively when ill health occurs (Figure 2).
Figure 2. A model for prevention Source: NHMRC Health Australia, 1995