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You are here:
Australia's international ranking for numerous aspects of health
is among the top 10 of the world's developed countries, according
to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's latest national
report card on health, Australia's health 2006.
The report was launched today by the Minister for Health and
Ageing, Tony Abbott, at the opening of the 'Australia's health
2006' conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra.
It shows that while we should be pleased with the overall
improvements in health, lifestyle-related risk factors such as
insufficient physical activity, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes are
still a concern. Smoking also remains a public health challenge,
and there is still too little evidence that the health of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is improving.
Australia's health 2006 looks at the health status of
the Australian population and the factors that influence it,
including health services and expenditure. This edition of the
biennial publication also includes a special chapter on the health
of Australia's children, and shows that children under 15 years of
age are generally much healthier than in previous generations.
'Vaccination rates have improved in recent years and smoking
rates halved between 1994 and 2002. However, childhood obesity is
still a great cause for concern, as is the increased incidence of
diabetes,' said Dr Penny Allbon, Director of the AIHW.
AIHW Medical Advisor and Australia's health 2006 editor Dr Paul
Magnus noted that Australia's overall cancer death rates declined
by about 14% between 1986 and 2004.
'Australia's smoking rates are already low when compared with
other western countries, so with rates continuing to fall,
Australia's ranking has improved from the middle third to the best
third,' Dr Magnus said.
Australia's international ranking for death rates from coronary
heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and transport accidents have
also improved markedly.
'There is now much better information in the community about
health, and Australia's network of health services has continued to
improve, providing prevention, early intervention and better
treatment of disease,' Dr Allbon said.
Our international rankings have fallen however, in relation to
diabetes (self-reported diabetes more than doubled between 1989-90
and 2004-05) respiratory diseases, and mortality from suicide, even
though the overall suicide rate for males in 2004 was the lowest
since records began in 1907,' she added.
'The other disturbing fact that continues to pervade the overall
health picture is the poorer health of Australia's Indigenous
population. Death rates of Indigenous infants remain about 3 times
those of other Australian infants, and about 70% of Indigenous
Australians die before reaching 65, compared with a little over 20%
for other Australians.'
Australia's health 2006 explores many aspects of Australia's
complex health system in one volume. It brings statistics together
in a way designed to inform policy makers, service providers,
consumers and interested citizens alike.
'Overall, the picture that emerges is of a high quality health
system serving the bulk of the population well, but under pressure
to deliver even more,' Dr Allbon said.
Australia's Health 2006 Highlights:
o Australians continue to live longer. Babies born today can
expect to live for over 80 years on average. For females, life
expectancy at birth in 2002-2004 was 83 years and for males it was
78 years. (p.17)
o Death rates for cardiovascular disease continue to decline,
including heart attack and stroke. (p. 54, 64)
o Australia's overall cancer death rates declined by about 14%
between 1986 and 2004 and these rates are low when compared with
other Western countries. (p. 78, 79)
o Despite improvements, cancer is now Australia's leading cause
of death among 45-64 year olds and causes more premature deaths and
overall disease burden than cardiovascular disease. (p. 52,
o Mental ill health is the leading cause of the non-fatal burden
of disease and injury in Australia. Also, it is estimated to have
caused about one eighth of the total Australian disease burden in
2003, exceeded only by cancer and cardiovascular disease. (p.
o The prevalence of self-reported diabetes more than doubled
between 1989-90 and 2004-05. However, between 1997 and 2004, death
rates from diabetes were stable for males and fell slightly for
females. (p. 70)
o Smoking rates continue to fall, with one in six Australians
aged 14 years or over smoking tobacco daily in 2004, compared with
seven in 10 men and three in 10 women in the 1950s. (p. 158-9)
o About one in 12 young people aged 12-19 years smoked daily in
2004, more females (9.1%) than males (7.3%). (p. 159-60)
o In 2004, about five in six Australians aged 14 years or over
had drunk alcohol in the previous 12 months. About one in 12 had
drunk at levels that risked harm in both the short and long term.
o The proportion of children under 15 years who are overweight
or obese continues to rise, according to state-level data. (p.
o Dementia is the greatest single contributor to the burden of
disease due to disability at older ages, as well as the greatest
single contributor to the cost of care in residential aged care. It
is estimated that in 2004 about 171,000 people aged 65 years or
over had dementia. (p. 218)
o A 2004 survey of prison entrants found that their prevalence
of hepatitis C was 25 times as high as in the general population.
o About 70% of Indigenous Australians die before reaching 65
years of age, compared with little over 20% for other Australians.
o Death rates of Indigenous infants and children (under 15
years) generally remain about three times those of other Australian
infants and children. (p. 278)
o Average per person expenditure on health for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples was 18% higher than for other
Australians although the general health status of Indigenous
peoples was considerably poorer. (p. 291)
o In 2005, one in 17 of all employed people were in health
occupations-nearly 570,000 Australians, representing a growth of
26% since 2000. (p. 315)
o According to OECD figures, Australia had higher numbers of
general practitioners and nurses relative to population in 2003
than did New Zealand, Canada, the United States and the United
Kingdom. (p. 330)
o Health service use has increased by almost any measure:
medical services up by 4.4% in just one year; hospital stays up
almost 9% in the public sector over the last five years and 30% in
the private sector; and pharmaceutical prescriptions up 41% over
the latest decade. (p. 344, 356, 361)
o Around 85% of Australians visit a doctor at least once a year,
at an average of five GP visits per Australian. However, this
includes 4% of people having more than 50 medical services in a
year. (p. 342, 343-4)
21 June 2006
Further information: Dr Paul Magnus, AIHW, tel.
02 6244 1149 or 02 6244 1168
For media copies of the report: Publications
Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.
Availability: Check the AIHW Publications
Catalogue for availability of Australia's health