Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Health for some, why not health for all?
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.'
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.