Everything You Need to Know about Cancer Control Policy in Australia
Finding your way through the Australian Health System can be challenging, particularly when you are dealing with the physical, emotional and financial impacts of cancer.

Apart from affecting your physical health, Cancer is a disease that can deteriorate your mental health if not handled positively. The journey from the “patient” to the “Survivor” is dispiriting and you need the best caregivers to support you throughout this journey. The term “Survivor” means different to different people, some live in fear even after recovering from this deadly disease while some come out even stronger. No matter what, one cannot deny how adversely cancer affects the victims. As you deal with intense feelings every day, every hour, and even every second, it is imperative to make sure you are being treated in the right environment and under the right supervision.

One of the most renowned countries with the strongest cancer control agenda is Australia. Australia has a rich history of successful cancer treatments and is probably the best place to fight and win your battle with cancer. With thousands of consumer support, advocacy groups, and cancer charities, Australia is moving to its cancer control goals swiftly. Australia has always considered the health of its citizens as its topmost priority and thus framed several policies, programs as well as plans to help people deal conveniently with Cancer. With the help of these policies, Australia has controlled the impact of cancer on its citizens to a great extent. In this blog, we will be taking you through the various plans and policies framed by the Australian government to fight-back cancer efficiently.

The Australian Government and its Healthcare System 

The Australian government plays a key role in its complex healthcare system. The out of hospital medical services are subsidized by the Australian government through its Medicare System. Apart from this, there is a slew of programs directed by the Australian Federal Government including the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Provision of Radiotherapy Services, Breast and Cervical Screening Programs, and Aged Care.

As far as the hospital care and some of the community services are concerned, the State and Territory Government take care of these areas. The funds for these sectors are raised by public funding like health insurance plans. In Australia, the Cancer and Care department is supported by non-government and non-profit organizations. These organizations fulfill the educational, prevention, and psychological needs of cancer patients. Along with meeting these needs, the families and careers of cancer patients are also under the wing of the Australian government.

Health for all Australians, 1987

The Health Targets and Implementation (Health for All) Committee was formed by the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council (AHMAC) in 1987 with a single motive of diminishing the inequalities in health status by developing national health goals and targets. Though the average health ratio of Australians at that time was increasing yet cancer was the second cause of death in Australia. The increasing death rates of cancer patients became the subject of concern for the Australian government. Lung Cancer, Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Colon Cancer, and Melanoma were the main cancers causing the most deaths. The main purpose of the Health for all Australians Policy was to develop nine goals and fifteen targets to fight back these cancers. The Australian Cancer Society proposed these goals and targets initially as a part of their National Cancer Prevention Policy for Australia. Not just these programs, in fact, the proper structures were also created with the help of which these goals could be achieved swiftly and most efficiently. 

Goals & targets for Australia's health in the year 2000 and beyond, 1993

The purpose of this scheme was basically to review that the goals and targets established in “Health for All Australians” are being achieved or not. This scheme keeps a check on the funding of health services, directions and healthcare, and the improvement of health in Australia. Establishing a new framework for how to achieve the goals set by “Health for All Australians” and preparing a new set of goals and targets itself are also some of the major tasks performed by Goals & Targets for Australia's Health in the year 2000 and Beyond. This policy played a major role in controlling cancer and its spread in Australia as it prepared seven specific goals and sixteen targets to prevent cancer mortality and morbidity. These goals were related to some main cancer types like Skin Cancer, Breast Cancer, Cervix Cancer, Lung, and Testis cancer. Apart from all these responsibilities, this report highly recommended that it should be the duty of some lead agency within the country to make sure all the goals and targets are appropriately achieved.

How Australia is Bolstering Cancer Care?

Australian Government does not only focus on the patient living with cancer, in fact, it also keeps an eye on the professional caregivers of cancer patients. There are a number of ways through which the Australian government has been enhancing the screening quality of bowel and skin cancer and also increasing the prevention efforts. In addition to this, all the measures are undertaken to coordinate with the national cancer effort, research funding for cancer care, the best access to Pap smears for cervical cancer as well as to prevent smoking in pregnancy.

The funding made to Cancer Care in Australia is also used for the following:

Ø  Creating Cancer Support Groups

Ø  Training courses for cancer nurses

Ø  Support improvisation for newly diagnosed with breast cancer

Ø  Cancer Clinic trial support

Ø  Providing great support to children with cancer and their families

Ø  Cancer screening and awareness enhancement

Ø  Enhancing professional development for cancer professionals, counselors, and general practitioners

Ø  Early breast cancer detection and management facilities

Ø  Establishing new cancer care agencies (e.g the Victorian Integrated Cancer Services)

The above mentioned policies, schemes, and activities are just a glimpse of what Australia does to prevent its people from cancer. Not just the Aussies, in fact, people from overseas seek help from the Australian healthcare system to fight their battle with cancer and come out stronger.

Written By
Ani Goswami in Science
12 Jan 2021