What is prevention?
Prevention – also called preventive health – is any action taken to protect and promote the health of populations.
Prevention aims to prevent poor health, illness, injury and early death from occurring, and increase the likelihood that people will stay healthy and well for as long as possible.
Effective prevention decreases the risk of individuals experiencing a disease, condition or injury. Prevention also supports people to effectively manage existing diseases or conditions, so their health does not worsen.
Preventing and controlling chronic disease helps people to live longer and healthier lives. There is high-quality evidence that prevention of chronic disease is effective and cost-effective and that these impacts can be influential at a population level.
The Prevention Centre focuses on the prevention of chronic diseases (also called non-communicable diseases). Chronic diseases are long-term illnesses such as arthritis, cancer, respiratory disease, heart disease, diabetes and mental health conditions. In Australia, these diseases cause nine out of every 10 premature deaths and account for 80% of years lost due to ill health, disability or early death.
Australia has a strong tradition of developing and investing in prevention to deliver major health gains. These gains include high rates of immunisation and seatbelt use, restrictions on driving under the influence of alcohol, and changes to sleeping positions to prevent sudden infant death.
Australia has also made progress in chronic disease, for example in tobacco and blood pressure controls, which have substantially contributed to the halving of deaths from heart disease and stroke. But we have a long way to go to help everyone, particularly high-risk and disadvantaged groups, reduce their risk of chronic disease.
More about prevention
What is the burden of chronic disease?Chronic diseases are not only the leading cause of premature death in this country, they restrict how millions of Australians live every day.
How can I make the case for prevention?Small changes in the prevalence of the risk factors for chronic disease are likely to lead to a significant reduction in the health burden.