Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Health for some, why not health for all?

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2006 and the health news for Australians is pretty good according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's (AIHW) latest report, Australia's Health 2006.

Australia's international ranking for numerous aspects of health is among the top 10 of the world's developed countries.

The good news is we're living longer, overall death rates from cardiovascular disease and cancer are falling and we're improving in terms of our health behaviours, with fewer people smoking and taking drugs, alcohol being the exception.

The less positive news is that we're still facing challenges in terms of our sedentary lifestyles, increasing obesity and incidence of Type 2 diabetes.

However, the future is much less rosy if you happen to be a member of the Indigenous population or suffer from a mental health condition. There is little in the report to suggest that the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is improving.

'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.'

Shocking statistics.

Mental ill-health is listed in the report as the leading cause of the non-fatal burden of disease, with approximately 1 in 5 Australians likely to experience mental ill health at some time in their lives. On a day when stories regarding lack of psychiatric resources are again in the news, to hear that Australia's international ranking regarding mortality from suicide has fallen is sobering.

Time to pause for thought before we pat ourselves on the back.


jumpinginpuddles said...

Ive sometimes wondered as i look at my children if in fact they will live out to their old age, gone are the days of running around the backyard free and easy, in stead as parents we are super vigilant safety at all times, society has so much to answer for as we live to longevity, they will have even more to answer for if the next generation are too depressed to give out because of the pressures they are under.
And i agree with the indigenous population, its hard for them.


Alison said...

Let's hope the recent talk of government recognition of the lack in mental health areas is acted upon. And soon.

Anonymous said...

So the mental health disparities is not limited to us. So much more could improve if there was more attention and less stigma regarding mental health. Makes me so sad, but determined as well to do my own little part in changing that.

Alison said...

Teisha, I think you'll find more similarities between the US and Aust. than you'll find differences, particularly in the areas of bureaucracy.

healthpsych said...

Hi Amelia,
Thanks for dropping by. I share your concerns too.

Hi Alison,
Yes, some progress at least! :)

Hi Tiesha,
It's everywhere unfortunately. It would be so good to see that changing.

Evan said...

Our treatment of the indigenous people is appalling. It is the great shame of Australia.

I think the main problem with the health system here as elsewhere is adopting a bureaucratic approach to a complex situation ( the health of individuals and our community).

Thanks for a thoughtful and thought provoking post.