07-03-2004, 04:01 PM
A recently released article in the Medical Journal of Australia has asserted that Australia spends relatively too much on elite athlete programs and not enough on healthcare. Although this is an interesting argument worthy of reading, this opinion piece ignored the issue of using exercise to promote health, something elite athletes may do as role models. Australia could be doing far more to promote exercise, activity and sport, for example there is still no coordinated Federal approach to the problem of sports injuries. A timely political debate erupted late last year between John Coates, head of the Australian Olympic Committee and Mark Peters, head of the Australian Sports Commission. Peters thinks that health is a sport issue, namely that if the government doesn't do more to combat childhood obesity that the potential pool of Australian Olympic athletes will dry up in the near future. Coates thinks that health and sport shouldn't be connected in this way. Read more in a SMH article. Peters has said that Australia won't win the Gold medal for childhood obesity (the United States has this tied up - read Physician Sportsmed on US obesity) but that we are in line for the silver or bronze. Read Peters' initial comments. The nation's experts all agree that childhood and adult obesity are major problems in Australia. At injuryupdate.com.au, we believe that sport is a health issue as well, in that if there is little support available for Australians when they suffer a sports injury, then they will continue to shun exercise. Read about the lack of government policy direction in this area. Can this situation be changed? First the good news: Medicare is the issue that political analysts and media editors all agree is the biggest Federal issue of the day. The political parties are in a Dutch auction to see who can throw the most money at Medicare. The only way that John Howard can escape questions about Medicare is when he is in a private box watching the Davis Cup final, or the World Cup rugby final, or the NRL or AFL Grand Finals, or Steve Waugh playing in a Test match. Notice a pattern?! Sport and health dominate the news, but sports injuries struggle to ever become an issue of interest on the political radar. Yes, everyone sees star football players falling over all the time and they get excellent treatment. But does the average Australian injured on the sporting field get excellent treatment as well? And does anyone care about preventing injuries? The costs of surgery for common sports injuries can be up to $10,000 and are rising all the time. Read more detail about the cost of surgery and an article in the SMH. This will only become an issue if people make a noise.