Spending on public health up 5.5%

Expenditure on public health in Australia grew by 5.5% in 2008-09 to $2.3 billion, an increase of $120 million on what was spent the previous year, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

‘This continues real growth in public health expenditure which has averaged 7.3% per year since 1999-00,’ said report co-author Gail Brien.

Public health focuses on prevention, promotion and protection rather than on treatment, looking at populations rather than individuals, and on the factors and behaviours that cause illness.

The report, Public health expenditure in Australia 2008-09, also shows that spending on public health as a proportion of total health expenditure was 2.1%, slightly down on the previous year’s figure of 2.2%.

‘Over the past decade, there have been small peaks in public health expenditure, which often reflect the implementation of particular programs in particular years,’ Ms Brien said.

‘From 1999-00, this proportion was between 1.8% and 1.9% until it increased to 2.2% in 2007–08, largely as a result of the introduction of the National Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program. The 2008-09 figure reflects declining expenditure associated with that program.’

However, over the longer term, organised immunisation expenditure grew by an average of 13.7% per year between 1999-00 and 2008-09.

The largest areas of growth in 2008–09 were in selected health promotion which grew by 15.8% and screening programs (12.7%).

Canberra, 25 February 2011

Further information: Ms Gail Brien, AIHW, (02) 6244 1050, mob. 0419 296 053

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032