The National Chronic Disease Strategy

Introduction to NCDS

The National Chronic Disease Strategy (NCDS) is an Australian agency committed to the process of diagnosis and treatment of chronic conditions which have posed a serious health risk within the population. Society is currently under the devastating effects of chronic diseases. An estimated sixty percent of the total expenses incurred on health go towards refurbishing the health impacts brought about by chronic infections. A strategic plan which is aimed at controlling and treating chronic diseases has ever been rolled out by the Australian department of health. The strategy was divided into five main categories to facilitate early detection and therefore early treatment of chronic diseases. To begin with, detailed literature was drawn in order to enhance a national vigilance of both the onset and progress of chronic diseases. This provided thorough guidance including quantitative methods which could be used to give surveillance to the onset of chronic diseases.

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The NCDS surveillance program is keenly focusing on five key chronic infections which include diabetes, heart-related diseases, asthma and cancer. Also included in this list is the musculoskeletal attack that has equally been a real health challenge facing a considerable size of the population. The five chronic diseases have been perceived to be the most notorious infections due to their level of attack to patients who easily succumb to them. Moreover, the Australian health ministers proposed a diverse and multilayered approach to chronic conditions in order to help with the early detection and treatment of these infections. Early intervention has been found to be very effective in reducing the degree of physical damage to patients. If this is achieved, the standard of life of most afflicted patients will improve. Besides, early detection and treatment will ensure that patient care begins and progresses without interruption whatsoever in addition to assisting the actual patients in being active participants in the treatment process for the sake of their own lives.

Program implementation

The NCDS program primarily aims at implementation nationwide chronic disease prevention and care program. The agenda has been mapped out on a national scale. Its program agenda is more similar to the strategies which have already been developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The main concern of the CDC is the early detection and treatment of chronic conditions (CDC 2004). This center defines a chronic condition as a form of sickness which usually persists for a considerable length of time and does not subside on its own in addition to difficulty in treatment. NCDS has realized that chronic conditions may endure in the biological system of a patient for a long period of time without any vivid indication of symptoms. It has therefore developed strategies for early detection, care and management of chronic conditions. One major medical intrigue of chronic infection is that the specific causes may not be established while the condition itself cannot be transferred from one person to another but there is a myriad of risk factors that usually accompany the chronic ailment (Mathers, Voc & Stevension 1999). Although chronic infections are often not curable, the program works towards patient care through early detection processes.

Australia is one of the countries in the developed world which is facing the challenging health burden arising from the retrogressive impacts of chronic conditions. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare observes that the change in population patterns is considered as one of the precipitating factors to chronic conditions. Intertwined within the demographic factor is the type of lifestyle which people live including the eating habits. Such changes have notably exposed the population to potential risk factors associated with chronic conditions due to higher susceptibility. Moreover, the above institute confirms that in spite of the incurable nature of most of these chronic infections, it is still possible to keep the infections at bay or better still delay their threshold stage. It is also pertinent to develop strategies that can be used to detect and treat chronic conditions as early as possible. Lack of early detection of these chronic conditions can indeed lead to deeper suffering of both the patients and those who give care. This will translate itself to mass losses in terms of the level of productivity (NCDS 2005). The Australian health system is therefore bound with the duty of acting decisively to these health puzzles so that further losses can be brought to an end.

A national strategic policy framework was unanimously agreed upon by the Australian Health Minister’s Advisory Council way back in 2002. This policy is aimed at among other health issues, increasing the degree of early detection and treatment of chronic conditions. This would promote the overall care of the entire population. The National Chronic Disease Strategy is part and parcel of this policy framework and it is geared towards the treatment t of chronic conditions. This strategy has further identified that effective treatment can only be viable if the condition is detected early enough.

The action area

The National Chronic Disease Strategy (NCDS) is mainly targeting the vulnerable groups who are deemed to be at high risk of developing chronic conditions. The strategy considers the possible risk factors such as obesity, age and genetics in identifying those who are more likely to be at risk. Nevertheless, screening of the seemingly healthy population is part and parcel of the action plan.

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Australian strategic plan on chronic condition healthcare is indeed the right

Scheme if it will be implemented as per the proposals by the Australian Health Ministers. There is a need to transform words spoken at the conference into workable actions. In fact, tangible steps are required to be put into place in order to ensure that chronic conditions are diagnosed early enough upon onset so that treatment can commence.

As a preliminary initiative, the Australian healthcare plan requires a lot of both economic and political goodwill so that all the proposed healthcare agendas especially on early detection and treatment are put into action. This will require some amendments to be done on the existing systems in order to pave way for the implementation phase. One of the key items in the healthcare agenda for the early detection of chronic illnesses is the establishment of healthcare structures for all. This will move towards reducing the disparity between those patients who can afford the cost of treating chronic conditions and those who cannot. There are several cases where differences in healthcare provision have caused gross delays in the diagnosis of chronic conditions. According to the Australian Government’s National Chronic Disease Strategy (2005), the establishment and availability of healthcare structures in Australia may not be strategic at the moment due to known misplacements of healthcare structures. There is no clear definition of whether such health systems should be placed at the state or federal level. Moreover, the role which is supposed to be performed by the private sector is not quite clear. When both the private and public sectors are brought on board, the element of competition will be real and therefore it will be possible to provide excellent health care services to patients who are undergoing chronic conditions. Additionally, competition among healthcare providers will ensure that the process of early detection and therefore dearly treatment becomes practical (World Health Organization 2005).

Another provision that should be incorporated into the healthcare sector as far as early detection and treatment are concerned is the much-needed primary healthcare. According to the Center for Disease Control (2004), the best medical practice which targets early detection of chronic infections can be achieved by implementing a general practice. This will not only be a viable tool in identifying early signs of chronic attacks but will also enhance integration and an ongoing healthcare plan for the affected patients. In so doing, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (2003) explains that the effectiveness of early treatment will require the use of registers as well as frameworks that can allow the recall of patients. A manual record can be used to keep track record of patients. However, an electronic recall system is more preferred due to easy access and assessment of the medical progress of patients.

Healthcare provision to chronically affected patients in form of early treatment can stem up from the provisions of the Australian Government Health Connect program which has been instituted in place (McKenna.; Taylor.; Marks & Koplan1998). This health scheme by the government has been considered one of the most viable primary alternatives to primary care on most chronic conditions. The medical providers can use this government program to share a wide array of patient information in order to advance and continuously monitor treatment as early as possible. The general healthcare groups will then have to use a standard system in their diagnosis and treatment of chronic conditions to ascertain a thorough detection and treatment procedure. Alongside this prerequisite will be the need to have access to information at a local level regarding the treatment of chronic diseases and how the patients are responding to medication (Hennekens, Buring & Mayrent1987).

Unfortunately, the Australian primary healthcare practice is not optimally in use as it should be. There is still room for improving the existing models. The provision of adequate resources to help in the process of early detection is still required if chronic conditions will have to be addressed decisively (National Health Priority ActionCouncil 2006). A case example of the Australian Health Plus model can be used in the early detection and hence early treatment of chronic diseases. The model stipulates a myriad of procedures that can be incorporated into the healthcare practice to alleviate the physical harm caused by chronic conditions. However, the present condition depicts a substantial lack of uniformity between the reality on the ground and policy documentations (Chang & Johnson 2008). It will therefore be imperative for medical providers as well as healthcare managers to find a lasting solution to the inherent medical challenges which have continued to impede the early detection and treatment of chronic conditions. In addition, adequate financial resources to aid in the process of carrying out early detection are required. Most patients with chronic conditions often succumb to deteriorating health status faster than it is necessary due to delayed diagnosis followed by late treatment. Further, funding models which aim at offering a broadband healthcare initiative to patients suffering from chronic conditions are highly called for (Fries, Carey & McShane1997). This is particularly important owing to the fact that encouraging individual patients to run the due process of early detection and treatment can prove to be less effective because not all individual persons may be in a capacity to prioritize their health status and needs; some exhaustive healthcare framework is needed to ascertain such measures. For instance, the United Kingdom has recently developed some medical policy guidelines on the early detection and early treatment of chronic conditions which has recorded remarkable success (Mathers, Voc & Stevension 1999).

Aims and objectives of the program

The main aim of the program is to create a healthy ground for the detection, management and consistent screening of patients suspected of chronic conditions in Australia. In achieving this aim, NCDS has embarked on the following objectives:

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  • Preventing the start of chronic conditions,
  • Alleviate the pains accompanied with chronic conditions,
  • Improve the standard of living for affected patients and
  • Improve the performance ability of healthcare providers dealing with chronic conditions.

Blood pressure is one of the parameters measured to ascertain the prevalence of a chronic condition. When the blood pressure is high above the expected standards, it depicts the likelihood of an ill-health condition. In most cases, high blood pressure is used to carry out early detection of some of the chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases. Since hypertension is a latent condition that cannot be physically identified, it is recommended that the same is monitored on a regular basis as part of the early detection mechanism of some chronic conditions (Calle, Rodriguez, Walker-Thurmond & Thun 2003).

Outcomes and evaluation of the program

An early treatment procedure for hypertension may include but is not limited to proper diet, improved body exercise and in some cases medication. If a condition like high blood pressure is not treated in advance before it transcends to risky levels, it may lead to full-blown chronic conditions like heart attack and stroke. One of the positive results of the NCDS program is that it has managed to strengthen early detection and treatment strategies in Australia. This has enabled the identification of risk factors in advance before commencing treatment. The strategy has been improved by providing a more integrated healthcare program through health workers. A comparison of the NCDS program with the U.S Department of Health shows a similar approach to chronic conditions (Mansfield 2003).

As far as regular medical checks are recommended to monitor the onset of chronic conditions associated with high blood pressure, it is equally important to underscore the fact age is a major risk factor in the development of such chronic conditions. The prevalence of hypertension is directly proportional to age with those in their 70s accounting for more than fifty percent of all the cases reported (Morton; Hebel; & McCarter1996). For this reason, the older generation should evenly be encouraged to undergo medical screening from time to time because they stand a higher chance of developing chronic conditions. Similar analysis of hypertension reveals that gender has a negligible effect on the onset and progress of preliminary chronic conditions like hypertension.

On the other hand, the Australian basic healthcare practice still needs a lot to be into full, operation. A lot can be done to boost the existing models. The provision of adequate resources to help in the process of early detection is still required if chronic conditions will have to be addressed decisively (Chang & Johnson 2008). For instance, of the existing models can be used in the early detection and hence early treatment of chronic diseases. These models vividly show a myriad of procedures that can be incorporated into the healthcare practice to alleviate the physical harm caused by chronic conditions. However, the present condition depicts a substantial lack of uniformity between the reality on the ground and policy documentation. It will therefore be imperative for medical providers as well as healthcare managers to find a lasting solution to the inherent medical challenges which have continued to impede the early detection and treatment of chronic conditions. In addition, adequate financial resources to aid in the process of carrying out early detection are required (Fries, Carey & McShane1997). Most patients with chronic conditions often succumb to deteriorating health status faster than it is necessary due to delayed diagnosis followed by late treatment. In addition, funding mechanisms that target the provision of several options of healthcare programs to patients suffering from chronic conditions are highly called for. This is particularly important owing to the fact that encouraging individual patients to run the due process of early detection and treatment can prove to be less effective because not all individual persons may be in a capacity to prioritize their health status and needs; some exhaustive healthcare framework is needed to ascertain such measures. For instance, the United Kingdom has recently developed some medical policy guidelines on the early detection and early treatment of chronic conditions which has recorded remarkable success.

In the case of cancer, medical parishioners have confirmed that screening is among the most viable tools which can be used to assist cancer patients who go through the chronic condition successfully (Bodenheimer, Wagner & Grumbach 2002). Most cancer patients who have survived in the past had to undergo a pre-onset procedural examination to establish their health status.

There are several classes of cancer and which have been categorized according to the part of the body being affected. For example, breast cancer affects the breast (Polednak 2003). Others include cervical, prostate, lung and skin cancer. The Australian health ministers’ conference underscored the need for regular screening practices for all patients who visit medical facilities in order to assist in the early detection of cancer as a chronic condition (Hawley1995).

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Summary

In summing up this paper, it is imperative to note that early detection of chronic conditions provides a firm base for advancing the successful medical treatment of these chronic conditions to the affected patients. Chronic conditions or diseases refer to all those infections which take a long period of time before they clearly manifest as symptoms in the affected patient. There are five main chronic conditions namely cancer, arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and asthma. Most patients usually undergo medical tests at a very late date after the condition has advanced thereby increasing the cost and effectiveness of such treatments. It is often advisable that risky age groups especially in regard to some chronic conditions should seek medical attention from time to time. Older people between the ages of seventy-five to eighty years are more prone to some of these chronic infections than the younger age groups. Moreover, it is also imperative to note that most of these chronic conditions are treated symptomatically as in the case of asthma. There are no permanent cures but patients can reduce the severity of the chronic attacks by seeking early treatment. It is therefore very important for screening procedures to be carried out to the population even when there are no signs of particular chronic conditions. This will work towards reducing the cost incurred in catering for patients with chronic conditions and therefore n overall reduction in the medical budget of the Australian society.

Reference list

Bodenheimer, T., Wagner E.H., & Grumbach, K (2002). Improving primary care for patients with chronic illnesses: the chronic care model. Part 2. Journal of American Medical Association, 288, 1909-1914.

CDC, The Burden of Chronic Diseases and Their Risk Factors: National and State Perspectives (2004); The State of Aging and Health in America.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Office of the Actuary, National Health Statistics Group, (2003) State Estimates- All Payers- Personal Health Care.

Calle EE, Rodriguez C, Walker-Thurmond K, Thun MJ. Overweight, obesity, and mortality from cancer in a prospectively studied cohort of U.S. adults. New England Journal of Medicine 2003; 348(17):1625-1638.

Chang, E. & Johnson, A (2008). Chronic Illness and Disability Sydney: Churchill Livingstone

Fries, J., Carey., C & McShane, D (1997). Patient education in arthritis: a randomized controlled trial of a mail-delivered program. Journal of Rheumatology, 24(7), 1378-83).

Hawley, D., (1995).Psychoeducational interventions in the treatment of Arthritis. Baillieres Clinical Rheumatology, 9(4), 803-23.

Hennekens, C.H.; Buring, J.E.; Mayrent, S.L. (1987). Epidemiology in medicine (Ed. Mayrent, S.L.).Boston, MA: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

Mansfield, A.(2003). Sustaining a secondary disease prevention approach to chronic disease management, a chronically complex issue. Australian journal of primary health, 9(2&3), 155-59.

Mathers, C Voc T & Stevension, C (1999). The burden of disease and injury in Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

McKenna, M.T.; Taylor, W.R.; Marks, J.S.; & Koplan, J.P. (1998). Current issues and challenges in chronic disease control. In Chronic disease epidemiology and control, 2nd edition; Brownson, R.C.;

Morton, R.F.; Hebel, J.R.; & McCarter, R.J. (1996). A study guide to epidemiology and biostatistics.Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, Inc.

National Health Priority Action Council (2006). National chronic disease strategy. Canberra: Australian Department of Health and Aging.

Polednak AP. Trends in incidence rates for obesity-associated cancers in the U.S. Cancer Detection and Prevention 2003; 27(6):415-421.

World Health Organization (2005). Preventing Chronic Diseases. Web.

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