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Australian Governments spent $880 million on activities designed to promote health and prevent illnesses in Australia during 1998-99, according to a report issued jointly by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the National Public Health Partnership (NPHP) today.

This figure represents about 2% of recurrent expenditure on health services in Australia in a year.

The National Public Health Expenditure Report 1998-99 presents the results of the first comprehensive study into government expenditure on public health-collected from eight main public health activities throughout Australia.

Of the $880 million, about 21% was spent on health promotion activities, 20% on immunisation and 16.5% on communicable disease control.

Breast cancer and cervical screening, environmental health, food standards and hygiene were among other public health activities described in the study.

According to the report, 70% of public health activities in Australia are delivered through programs managed by State and Territory Governments. The funding of those activities, however, is shared almost equally between the Commonwealth (52%) and the States and Territories (48%).

Acting Head of the AIHW's Health Expenditure Unit, Tony Hynes, said that this study covered all public health activities funded by Commonwealth and State and Territory health authorities.

'Public health activities are also funded by local government authorities, non-government organisations and other government bodies. These activities will be included in future work under the National Public Health Expenditure Project.'

State of Play of Expenditure on Public Health by Australian Governments, a companion report also released today by the AIHW and NPHP, outlines the status of public health expenditure data up to 1999.

'This report highlights the lack of consistent information about expenditure on public health activities that had existed across Australia,' Mr Hynes said. We have gone a long way to address this with National Public Health Expenditure Report 1998-99, but we still need to know more about this critical area of health expenditure in Australia.'

20 September 2001


Further information: Mr Tony Hynes, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1160
Mr John Goss, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1151, or mobile: 0409 307 671
Ms Cathy Mead, NPHP, tel. 03 96161515
Media copies of the report: Publications Officer, 02 6244 1032
Availability: Check the AIHW Publications Catalogue for availability, (public health expenditure 1998-99 and state of play)