Imagine if after every election we had to restructure our emergency departments, reorganise surgical waiting lists, and re-employ all our clinical staff. Yet in prevention there is a sorry history of the equivalent.
Many an election has resulted in changes resulting in the disruption of prevention activities, even without change of governing party. We have previously seen evidenced-based programs being prematurely terminated on ideological or budgetary rationales, despite the fact that it takes years for such programs to be implemented at scale and even longer to have their impact.
While there is clearly a case for more effectively targeted investment in prevention, as we have demonstrated in several of our projects, equally we need to try and argue for the protection and continuity of the programs already in place.
It reminds me of stroke therapy, where brain tissue just outside the main area of damage is very vulnerable but may survive with the right sort of care. That’s the sort of care and attention we need to maintain existing prevention programs.
It is critical that we see the process of evaluation of our work not just in terms of continuous improvement but as part of protecting what it is vulnerable by presenting to the public the case for the benefits.