Health in Australia

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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.[1] 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[edit]

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.[2] The life expectancy (at birth) in 2015 was estimated to be 79.7 years for males and 84.74 years for females.[3] 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.[4] In 2002/2004, less than 2.5% of the population was undernourished.[4]

Causes of death[edit]

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.[5] More than half of all consultations with GPs in Australia are in relation to chronic condition such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes.[6]

The fastest growing chronic illness in Australia is diabetes.[7] There are approximately 100,000 new diagnoses every year. On average one Australian is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every five minutes.[8]

Health status[edit]

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."[9]

A 2007 study found that the 11 largest preventable contributions to the indigenous burden of disease in Australia were tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, high body mass, inadequate physical activity, low intake of fruit and vegetables, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, unsafe sex, child sexual abuse and intimate partner violence. The 26% of Indigenous Australians living in remote areas experience 40% of the health gap of Indigenous Australians overall (Vos, Barker, Begg, Stanley & Lopez, 2008, pp.460-477).

Preventable diseases[edit]

Cigarette smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia[10] but the proportion of the population who smoke, 16%, is amongst the lowest in the world. It was 34% in 1983.[11] See Category:Smoking in Australia.

Chronic non-communicable diseases account for a higher proportion of deaths than infectious diseases in Australia.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15]

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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Health care in Australia

Physical fitness campaigns and programmes



  1. ^ Boslaugh S. Health care systems around the world: a comparative guide. California: SAGE publications; 2013. 606 p
  2. ^ Sue Dunlevy (5 March 2013). "Australia now third in the world for life expectancy and healthy life". News Limited. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 2015-12-24. 
  4. ^ a b "Britannica World Data, Australia". 2009 Book of the Year. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2009. pp. 516–517. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  5. ^ "Causes of Death, Australia, 2011". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "Building a 21st Century Primary Health Care System" (PDF). Department of Health and Ageing. p. 9. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "Policy and Advocacy". Diabetes Australia. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Sophie Tarr (9 July 2012). "One Aussie diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every five minutes". Herald Sun. News Limited. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  9. ^ Australia's Health 2014. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; 2014. p. 578
  10. ^ Smoking – A Leading Cause of Death The National Tobacco Campaign. Retrieved on 17 October 2007
  11. ^ Britnell, Mark (2015). In Search of the Perfect Health System. London: Palgrave. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-137-49661-4. 
  12. ^ AIHW, Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L & Lopez A 2007. The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003. Cat. no. PHE 82. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 24 May 2014 <>.
  13. ^ Britnell, Mark (2015). In Search of the Perfect Health System. London: Palgrave. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-137-49661-4. 
  14. ^ Queensland Government (2006). Priorities in Progress, Queensland 2005–06. Queensland Treasury. 
  15. ^ "Skin cancer - Cancer Council Australia". Retrieved 2015-12-24. 
  16. ^ Healthdirect