AMA calls for national health policy for young people

1 Nov 2020

AMA Position Statement on the Health of Young People

 

The AMA is calling for a National Health Policy for Young People that considers the overall health and wellbeing of young Australians.

The proposed policy is one of the key recommendations of the AMA Position Statement on the Health of Young People, released today in conjunction with National Youth Week.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said that young people today are confronted daily with significant health risks including poor diet and obesity, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and bullying.

“Mental and physical health are critical aspects of life, and the patterns established when young can stay with a person throughout life,” Dr Hambleton said.

“More than a third of young Australians aged from 10 to 24 years are obese and overweight, and more than nine per cent of this group have reported high or very high levels of psychological distress.

“They are also recording high rates of hospitalisations due to injury or poisoning, and experiencing a high incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and diabetes.

“These problems could lead to serious health problems later in life if not addressed now.

“It is important to support and advise young people about staying healthy and avoiding unhealthy practices and substances,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Parents and other adults can provide strong guidance to young people and send the right messages and set the right examples about adopting and maintaining a healthy, happy lifestyle.

“GPs are also a trusted source of information and are well placed to have difficult conversations about sex, alcohol and drug use, and issues like bullying.

“Family doctors can help young people make educated choices and to be in control of their health and lifestyle decisions.

“But we need a national health policy specifically for young people to tie all these education and support services together to help give our young people a strong foundation for healthier and longer lives,” Dr Hambleton said.

The AMA Position Statement on the Health of Young People – which is available at https://ama.com.au/node/506 – examines many issues including access to health services, the education and training needs of medical practitioners, the transition from paediatric to adult medical care, health promotion and health information, and the influence of marketing on young people.

Key AMA recommendations in the Position Statement include:

  • the development of a National Health Policy for Young People which considers the overall health and wellbeing of young people;
  • young people to be engaged during the development of all youth health initiatives and programs;
  • general practitioners to be involved, where possible, in the development and delivery of youth health initiatives and programs;
  • the Federal Government to increase the availability of Medicare cards, and this should be complemented with education about applying for and using the cards;
  • investment in areas of youth health to be commensurate with the impacts on individuals and the broader community, and should include particular focus on prevention and early intervention;
  • young people to be placed in hospital wards with people of the same age rather than children or mature adults (where appropriate);
  • more emphasis on the transition of care between paediatric and adults services for young people with a chronic illness or disability; and
  • medical schools and the medical colleges to recognise the importance of providing high quality education and training in youth health.

Background:

In its recent publication, The wellbeing of young Australians, the Australian Research Alliance on Children and Youth (ARACY) found that:

  • 57 per cent of 15-25 year olds are sedentary or have low levels of activity;
  • five per cent of 5-24 year olds are meeting the recommended daily vegetable intake (with 56 per cent meeting recommended daily fruit intake);
  • there was a suicide rate of 10 deaths per 100,000 population 15-24 year olds (2007); and
  • 18 per cent of 14-19 year olds engaged in illicit drug use.

8 April 2013

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                         Kirsty Waterford                   02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

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