How self care can help increase sustainability of healthcare system

| June 25, 2015

The Global Access Partners’ report on self care was launched on 23 June 2015. Deon Schoombie Executive Director, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) outlines key recommendations of the report.

There is a general consensus that Australia’s health care system is not sustainable in its current state. Several major reports into the health system over recent years have outlined the magnitude of future problems facing the healthcare system. They all point to rising healthcare costs, increasing and unsustainable government expenditure on health, and a system under enormous pressure from growing demand for health services, especially due to an ageing population.

What needs to be done to address these issues?
The Australian Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, recently launched a report on self care by the strategic policy institute Global Access Partners (GAP)  – Towards responsible self care: The role of health literacy, pharmacy and non- prescription medicines. The report calls on governments to integrate self care into health policy.

The GAP Report points to the need to reorient the healthcare system towards prevention of the many lifestyle diseases forecast to drive spiralling cost increases in Australia’s healthcare system. It also highlights the need for the health system to support consumers to take more responsibility for managing minor conditions and chronic illnesses in partnership with health professionals rather than being passive recipients of healthcare.

So the question is how might Australia develop and implement self care in a consistent and coordinated way that maximises the benefits not only for individual citizens but for participants in the health and care sector?

Implementing self care is beyond the capacity of Government to mandate or any single group to bring about. It requires input and action from all aspects of the health sector.

The GAP Report sets out several recommendations for government, citizens, health professionals, industry and private health insurers to increase uptake of self care.  It addresses three of the multiple components of self care – access to medicines, the role of community pharmacy in primary healthcare delivery, and health literacy as a universal enabler of greater self care. Key recommendations are:

  • Consumers need encouragement to take more responsibility for their health and wellbeing, but they also need the knowledge, skills and tools required to succeed
  • Government must create a policy environment in which self care forms an integral part of a national health policy and to work with all stakeholders to make it a reality
  • Regulatory authorities should encourage an environment that supports evidence-based non-prescription and complementary medicines
  • Cultural change is needed in the relationships between health care professionals and patients and between the different health care professions
  • The expansion of self care will increase the demand for a broader range of solutions from industry– demand that should be met through product innovation and wider access to safe, effective treatments
  • The private health insurance industry needs to offer the right mix of incentives to alter behaviour in favour of self care.

Australia’s Self Care Alliance is a neutral space for each of these stakeholders to come together to pool knowledge and expertise, to foster dialogue and facilitate and initiate collaborative efforts to support the implementation of self care in the Australian health and care sector.

The Self Care Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation with membership open to organisations from all domains of the health sector, consumers, healthcare professionals and providers, researchers, educators, policy makers, public and private funders and industry

If you would like to join the Self Care Alliance or would like additional information please email: