Lesley Day sent me this report of an opinion piece written by Rod McClure, director of the Monash Injury Research Institute and printed in The Sidney Morning Herald,one of the leading newspapers in Australia. It notes that the four top-ranked conditions that killed Australians in 2010 were heart disease, cancer, lung disease and injuries but not all attract the same attention. It goes on to make a point many of us believe to lie at the heart of the failure of public health to address injuries as they deserve to be addressed. “(It is) because the community fragments the public health problem of injury into small separate categories – falls, skateboard accidents, snake bites, etc, – in contrast to the way we clump cancers, heart and lung disease into single-issue conditions”. In contrast, McClure also calls attention to data in the Lancet’s Global Burden of Disease that show that the incidence of many injury problems has increased over the last 20 years such that they are now leading many of the more ‘popular’ causes of death. Yet, as is true for most countries, the Australian government continues to focus on other health problems, not injuries.
McClure concludes with a frequently heard message: “What is urgently needed is a national commitment to addressing the problem of all-cause injury – for those 9,000 Australians each year who do not need to die, and many times more who do not need to live the rest of their life with disability.” This is an eloquent piece that deserves to be read in its entirety and not just by Australians. I fully agree that national commitments are lacking everywhere.