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Monday, January 12, 2004

Prevention is better than cure
Last year's Australian of the Year was Professor Fiona Stanley, the epidemiologist who discovered that giving a folate supplement to mothers could prevent their children from being born with spina bifida.

In a speech given to the National Press Club in Canberra, Prof. Stanley makes a rock solid case for tackling the underlying causes of problems, rather than overwhelmingly concentrating, as we usually do, on fighting their symptoms.

She illustrates her case by discussing the lost potential associated with not having health sevices geared to tackling high infant mortality in Aboriginal children and youth suicides in middle-income families...

One particularly striking quote from this talk is that "90% of the health dollar is spent on people who will be dead in 12 months".

This distribution of effort is understandable to an extent, but also suggests that many other health problems do not receive the resources that they need or deserve.