Health Priorities in Australia

Topics: Health, Demography, Public health Pages: 5 (1829 words) Published: November 29, 2013
HSC Core 1 – Health Priorities in Australia
1. Using measures of epidemiology, investigate the health status of Australians.

Health status is a holistic concept that is determined by more than the presence or absence of any disease. It is often summarised by life expectancy or self-assessed health status, and more broadly includes measures of functioning, physical illness, and mental wellbeing. Epidemiology is the study of disease in groups or populations through the collection of data and information, to identify patterns and causes. The measures of epidemiology are: Mortality- refers to the number of deaths in a given population from a particular cause and/or over a period of time. Infant Mortality- refers to the number of infant deaths in the first year of life, per 1,000 live births. Morbidity- is the incidence or level of illness, disease or injury in a given population. Life Expectancy- is the length of time a person can expect to live. More specifically, it refers to the average number of years of life remaining to a person at a particular age, based on current death rates. In Australia, the median age of death among the entire population in 2007 was 80.5 years old. In 2011 that statistic had risen to 81.5 years old, an increase of one year to the average life. In both years the leading cause of death among Australians was circulatory diseases (diseases of the heart and blood vessels) and the second leading cause in both years was cancer. Although the percentage of cancer deaths rose from 29.2% proportion of totals deaths to 29.8% and the percentage of circulatory disease deaths dropped from 33.8% of the populations deaths down to 31%.

In the past 100 years the infant mortality rate as decreased by 95%, from more than one in ten deaths in the first year of life (100+ deaths per 1000 live births) to one in 200 deaths in the first year of life (5 deaths per 100 live births). This can be attributed to improved health education, public sanitation, improved medical diagnosis and improved support services for parents and new born babies. Most infant mortalities are caused by congenital malformations which are structural or functional anomalies which are present at the birth of a child, preventative causes of this disease are improving the diet of women through their reproductive years, avoiding exposure to harsh environmental substances and improving vaccinations and health education.

Information about the incidence and prevalence of the total population gives a broader perspective on the nation’s health than just the mortality statistics. Australia’s population has a lowering incidence of asthma and rising survival rate of cancer although since 1984 the incidence of five major cancers has risen (Breast, Prostrate, Melanoma, Colorectal and Lung) and a report from SMH in 2008 shows 7.4 million people are overweight or obese and the prevalence of diabetes climbs rapidly, along with these problems the amount of people affected by STI’s has risen to more than 230 per 100,000 people. According to AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) Australia is one of the healthiest nations in the world although Indigenous Australians lag behind in their health status.

Australians live the second longest lives in world, behind Japan. The average Australian citizen will live to be 81.4 years old. And trends indicate that the expectancy of males and females is growing, since 2000 the life expectancy of males has grown from 77.4 years old to 79.7 years old, an increase of 2.3 years. The life expectancy of females since 2000 has grown from 82.6 up to 84.2, an increase of 1.6 years. This increase in the life expectancy of Australian residents indicates that their health is improving, with the help of increased knowledge and improved health services.

Taking all of this information into account, using measures of epidemiology, the health status of Australians can be said to be relatively good compared with that of other...
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