Health in Australia
Australia is a high income country, and this is reflected in the good status of health of the population overall. In 2011, Australia ranked 2nd on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index, indicating the level of development of a country. Despite the overall good status of health, the disparities occurring in the Australian healthcare system are a problem. The poor and those living in remote areas as well as indigenous people are, in general, less healthy than others in the population, and programs have been implemented to decrease this gap. These include increased outreach to the indigenous communities and government subsidies to provide services for people in remote or rural areas.
Life expectancy in Australia is among the highest in the world. According to the 2013 Global Burden of Disease Study Australia was ranked third highest in life expectancy. The life expectancy (at birth) in 2015 was estimated to be 79.7 years for males and 84.74 years for females. In 2006, the birth and death rates were 12.8 and 6.5 respectively, per 1,000 people. The infant mortality rate was 5.1 per 1,000 live births. In 2002/2004, less than 2.5% of the population was undernourished.
Causes of death
The leading causes of death in Australia in 2011 were ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, dementia and alzheimer disease, trachea, bronchus and lung cancers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. More than half of all consultations with GPs in Australia are in relation to chronic condition such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
The fastest growing chronic illness in Australia is diabetes. There are approximately 100,000 new diagnoses every year. On average one Australian is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every five minutes.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, "The health status of a country incorporates a number of different measures to indicate the overall level of health. It is more than merely the presence or absence of disease; it includes measures of physical illness, levels of functioning and mental wellbeing."
Indigenous Australian health and wellbeing statistics indicate Aboriginal Australians are much less healthy than the rest of the Australian community. One leading indicator, infant mortality rates, including stillbirths and deaths in the first month of life, show Aboriginal child mortality is twice as high as non-indigenous child mortality. As of 2010, life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men was estimated to be 11.5 years less than that of non-Indigenous men – 67.2 years and 78.7 years respectively. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, the 2010 figures show a difference of 9.7 years – 72.9 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and 82.6 years for non-Indigenous women.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, particularly males, are far more likely than the rest of the community to experience injury and death from accidents and violence.
In some areas of Australia, particular the Torres Strait Islands, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes among Indigenous Australians is between 25 and 30%. In Central Australia high incidences of type-2 diabetes has led to high chronic kidney disease rates among Aboriginal people. The most common cause of hospital admissions for Indigenous Australians in mainland Australia was for dialysis treatment.
Cigarette smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia but the proportion of the population who smoke, 16%, is amongst the lowest in the world. It was 34% in 1983. See Category:Smoking in Australia.
Chronic non-communicable diseases account for a higher proportion of deaths than infectious diseases in Australia. Australia has the fifth highest rate of obesity in the OECD. More than a third of the adult population are overweight and about a third obese. 57% do not take enough exercise.
Australian health statistics show that chronic disease such as heart disease, particularly strokes which reflects a more affluent lifestyle is a common cause of death. Australians the majority of whom are fair skinned are prone to skin cancer because of exposure to UV light from sunlight with 80% of all cancers diagnosed being of the skin, unlike in Canada or US where skin cancer is 2-3 times less common because of less intense sunlight.
Other issues include compensation for victims of asbestos exposure related disease and the slow development of HealthConnect. The provision of adequate mental health services and the quality of aged care, are other problems in some parts of the country.
- DisabilityCare Australia
- National Physical Activity Guidelines
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