The Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt, will be announcing $6.8m of funding, set to go for funding towards pain treatment and education, following a Deloitte report that revealed that at least 3 million Aussies suffer from chronic pain, like back pain in Rouse Hill, with a total financial cost set to sit at $73.2bn.
The report, published earlier in April, noted that the financial cost of dealing with chronic pain in Australia for 2018 included $48.3bn in productivity losses, $12.7bn in other financial costs like informal care and home modifications, on top of $12.2bn in costs to the country’s healthcare system. Of the Aussies that deal with chronic pain in their lives, 56% said that their pain hindered daily activities, while 70% were working age.
Commissioned by Painaustralia, an advocacy group, forecasted that improving the training of general practitioners with specialist-designed pain care for dealing with things like back pain in Rouse Hill would cost about $45m in implementation, but, in exchange, would cut down overdose-related costs by approximately $200m. Overdose is particularly problematic when it comes to opioids, morphine-like drugs used for pain relief, used even where other, less-risky options, are available, or even more effective.
This is noteworthy, as the AU sees more deaths with prescription opioids, compared to heroin, cocaine, and other, similar illicit drugs, according to the Deloitte report. In 2017-18, about 823 Aussies died thanks to misusing opioids.
According to Hunt, $2.5m in new funding would be given across four years in order to fund three projects; a consumer awareness and education programme by Painaustralia for people suffering from chronic pain, pain management care training for GPs, and an education campaign for the general public which will teach them on matters regarding pain management and opioids.
There’s also an additional $4.3m, which will allocated for pain management services in the rural parts of Australia, spread out over a four-year time span.
Painaustralia CEO Carol Bennett says that these programmes are critical, noting that, of those that deal with chronic pain, 1.45 million were also struggling with depression and anxiety. She says that these numbers aren’t something that can just be ignored, and the AU, as a country, needs to do better. Anything less than better, she says, is unacceptable.