Give priority to health check-ups in 2022
January 3, 2022
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Many of us have New Years Resolutions, but the most important that all Australians can make in 2022 is to pass the health checks they put aside during the pandemic.
With the focus on COVID-19 over the past two years, many of us have not prioritized other areas of our health.
Prevention is a key priority for the Morrison government. Our 10-year national preventive health strategy emphasizes valuing health before illness, underscoring the immense value of maintaining good health throughout a person’s life.
Now is the time to do just that. Australia has a world-class healthcare system and, like COVID, we can prevent the development of many diseases and conditions, or reduce their impact.
One of the best ways to prevent future illnesses is to keep abreast of regular health checks and early detection programs such as cancer screenings, regular vaccinations and testing for blood borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections.
Regular cancer screening saves lives, and early detection leads to better cancer treatment outcomes. Some types of cancer can be detected before symptoms appear, and screening can also detect changes in cells before they become cancerous.
There are three global population-based cancer screening programs in Australia:
- Cervical screening every five years for women aged 25 to 74, funded by Medicare
- Breast screening – or mammograms – offered free of charge every two years for women aged 40 to 74
- Colon Screening Tests – a free and easy home test posted to men and women ages 50-74 every two years.
The time of your next screening will depend on your age, your gender and the date of your last screening. If you need screening in 2022, you may need to make an appointment.
To sign up for a cervical screening test or to check your due date, contact your GP or health care provider.
To book a free mammogram, call BreastScreen Australia on 13 20 50 and you will be automatically directed to your nearest department.
For bowel screening, a kit will be mailed to you every two years once you become eligible. If you need a replacement kit, order one for free online.
Sexual health is also important to your overall health, and the decrease in testing and treatment for blood-borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections (BBVs and STIs) means there could be a lot of people unaware that they have an infection.
If you think you might be at risk, talk to your GP about the tests. Medicare articles are available for telehealth consultations regarding BBV and STIs.
For smokers, the best way to improve your health in 2022 is to quit smoking. We know it’s not always easy, but help is out there and there are huge benefits when you give up the habit.
For help quitting smoking, talk to your GP, call Quitline, or visit www.quit.org.au. Research shows that getting the support of a healthcare professional dramatically improves a smoker’s chances of successfully quitting.
To help, our government has extended specific Medicare articles for nicotine and smoking cessation services for general practitioners – including via telehealth – until December 31, 2023.
For those looking for help to reduce their dependence on alcohol and drugs, support is also available.
Australians can speak to your GP or call the free and confidential national alcohol and other drugs hotline on 1800 250 015. If you prefer to seek treatment online, you can visit Counseling Online, a free and confidential service at the address: https: // www. counselingonline.org.au/.
The pandemic has not only wreaked physical havoc on some Australians. Many people have also experienced mental health problems.
Since March of last year, our government has provided over $ 1 billion in funding to expand mental health services, including a substantial investment in telehealth.
Help is readily available if you have mental health issues, and there are many ways to get it. Talk to your GP or visit the government’s digital mental health portal, Head to Health.
Australians seeking support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue coronavirus welfare helpline at any time by phone at 1-800-512 348 or online at coronavirus.beyondblue .org.au.
Anyone in distress can also seek immediate advice and support via Lifeline (13 11 14) and Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).
Our healthcare system is well positioned to support Australians facing health challenges, throughout the pandemic and beyond.
COVID-19 has taught us the importance of our health and to talk to our health experts when we notice anything wrong. In 2022, I urge you to attend medical appointments and check-ups and keep track of all referrals for blood tests or tests. It’s about living well for a long time – it might just save your life.