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Rural Health System Resources


The Cost of Inaction on the Social Determinants of Health


Laurie Brown, Linc Thurecht and Binod Nepal


The social determinant of health are things that influence our health such as education, access to quality housing, safe workplaces, access to affordable fresh food, whether we smoke and so forth. These social determinants have a significant impact on health outcomes, particularly in rural and remote communities. This report estimates the economic impact of investing more money to address the social determinants of health on the wellbeing of the community, and the cost of hospital care, to governments and the community.

Why is this useful for rural and remote people?

There are well-established links between the level of disease and injury in rural and remote towns and contributing factors such as underemployment and unemployment; lack of housing or poor quality housing; poor school attendance and completions; lack of affordable access to nutritious food etc. What would happen to the type of health care needed in rural and remote towns if we focussed on addressing these social determinants of health? This study provides an important understanding of some of the drivers of poor health in rural and remote areas, and sets out an economic case for why governments should be investing a lot more in supporting local communities to address them. Being able to talk to government about how a local initiative will address a social determinant of health, and therefore save the government money, can be a critical part of securing resources for your town.

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