Prevention needs more than a poster campaign

‘Prevention is better than cure.’ A statement we have all heard, but one that resonates so much more deeply in the midst of the coronavirus climate. There have been numerous advancements in medicine and technology. It is no surprise that people question how far society has truly advanced in these areas when severe environmental factors occur for several months, and when pandemics arise.

Prevention is crucial in delivering population-wide health outcomes because it helps to reduce the pressure on health care facilities and prevent ill-health. It is evident that prevention involves making sacrifices, whether that be physical distancing or taking a yearly flu shot. When we look at the time when issues such as maternal and child health or creating safer work conditions were more pertinent, there was an element in prevention involved to have the improvements that are present today.

I recall the SARS pandemic in 2003. As a young girl in primary school, there were changes to our hygiene procedures and cleanliness habits. It was a period of time when a cough from a classmate attracted fearful glances and early dismissals. Nearly 18 years later, I find myself reliving similar circumstances. There have been so many changes to our daily routines that we have forgotten what ‘normal’ looks like. Attendants in grocery stores sanitizing baskets before use and large dots placed on the floor in businesses to prevent close contact My work roster has been divided into two teams to prevent any potential spreading of the virus etc. Perhaps we can never return to what normalcy usually resembles; rather, it will be about adjusting to a new normal.

It is my belief that in order for prevention to become a more intrinsic element of the wider social policy we need to have a host of forums where people of various backgrounds can be educated more about better health outcomes. It is not enough to only have poster campaigns because they do not take into account different perspectives. There are still varying opinions on vaccinations and modern medicine as a whole. Unless we are able to come together as a group to communicate ideas and share knowledge it will make it much harder for Australia’s effort on prevention to advance. Additionally, implementing more programs that promote and protect health will assist people in making healthier choices and to lead healthier lives. The aim should be to ‘move the needle forward’ because you risk staying stuck in a cycle of trying to get people to engage in prevention practices.

In terms of a successful 10-year prevention strategy, it is my opinion that success would depend on a continuous implementation of prevention measures such as health promotion forums where people can have open discussions about preventing serious health crises. Evidently, the recent climate has shown that common practices such as hand washing need to be continued even after the pandemic subsides. Success would also be dependent on involving the public more in developing policies. This would foster more inclusivity from the public and move away from decisions being made for people instead of with people.