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Investing in rural health brings dollar returns to local economies (and improves health)

Lesley Russell writes in The Conversation (26.4.17) that providing health care to the bush not only benefits people’s health but also the local economy.

‘When we talk about rural health, it’s easy to focus on health inequalities between the roughly 10% of Australians who live in rural and remote areas and those who live in our cities. Statistics show the further Australians live from the major cities, the less their life expectancy and the poorer their health.

‘But rural health is not just an issue about equitable access to health care services; it’s an economic issue that impacts on national, community and family budgets and life’s opportunities. The government isn’t investing enough in rural and remote health because of its failure to recognise the comprehensive impact of health care funding as a driver for local economic development.

‘The federal government’s development plan for Northern Australia doesn’t appear to mention health and health care services at all. This is despite international research showing investing a dollar in rural health care can generate more than a ten-fold economic return.’

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