Healthier population eases Australia’s disease burden

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Measuring the number of years living with an illness or non-fatal burden indury or premature death, The Australian Beureau of Disease Study reports an overall improvement in health of Australians between 2003 and 2015.   Released in a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), they conclude that 38% of total burden of diseas experienced by Australians in 2015 could have been prevented by reducing exposure to the risk factors identified in their study.

‘The 5 risk factors that caused the most total burden in 2015 were tobacco use (9.3%), overweight & obesity (8.4%), dietary risks (7.3%), high blood pressure (5.8%) and high blood plasma glucose—including diabetes (4.7%).’ said AIHW spokesperson Mr Richard Juckes. 

For the first time, living with illness or injury caused more total disease burden than premature death.  In 2015, the non-fatal share was 50.4% and the fatal share was 49.6% of the burden of disease.


Also released today is an overview of health spending that provides an understanding of the impact of diseases in terms of spending through the health system. The data in Disease expenditure in Australia relates to the 2015–16 financial year only and suggests the highest expenditure groups were musculoskeletal conditions (10.7%), cardiovascular diseases (8.9%) injuries (7.6%) and mental and substance use disorders (7.6%).

‘Together the burden of disease and spending estimates can be used to understand the impact of diseases on the Australian community. However they can’t necessarily be compared with each other, as there are many reasons why they wouldn’t be expected to align,’ Mr Juckes said.


 ‘For example, spending on reproductive and maternal health is relatively high but it is not associated with substantial disease burden because the result is healthy mothers and babies more often than not.


‘Similarly, vaccine-preventable diseases cause very little burden in Australia due to national investment in immunisation programs.’


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