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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
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Contents >> Health >> Health status

Morbidity

The 2001 NHS found that almost 78% of the Australian population reported having experienced one or more long-term conditions (i.e. conditions that have lasted, or are expected to last, six months or more). In most cases, respondents were asked about conditions which had been medically diagnosed.

From the range of long-term conditions covered in the 2001 NHS and NHS(I) surveys, those relating to eyesight and back problems were among the most likely to be reported for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations after adjusting for age differences in the two populations (table 9.2). For most self-reported long-term conditions, the age standardised rates for Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations were similar. The exception was diabetes, where the Indigenous rates were nearly four times higher than the non-Indigenous rates (table 9.2).

9.2 SELECTED LONG-TERM CONDITIONS, Age standardised percentages - 2001

Males
Females
Persons



Indigenous
Non-Indigenous
Indigenous
Non-Indigenous
Indigenous
Non-Indigenous
%
%
%
%
%
%

Long-sightedness
21
20
25
24
23
22
Short-sightedness
15
18
20
23
17
21
Back problems
19
21
24
21
22
21
Arthritis
14
11
18
15
16
13
Asthma
14
10
20
12
17
12
Chronic sinusitis
9
9
11
12
10
11
Total/partial hearing loss
15
14
12
7
13
10
Hypertension
12
9
16
10
14
10
Diabetes/high sugar levels
9
3
12
3
11
3
Neoplasms
*1
2
**1
1
*1
2

Source: National Health Survey: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results, Australia, 2001 (4715.0).

In general, females were more likely than males to report having experienced most of the selected long-term conditions. Females were also more likely to consult health professionals. For example, in 2001 it was estimated that 27% of females had consulted a doctor in the two weeks prior to the survey interview, compared with 21% of males. Females also have a longer life expectancy which is reflected in more females in the older age groups where long-term conditions are common. Adult males had a higher prevalence of neoplasms and hearing loss.

The proportion of people who reported having a circulatory system disease increased steadily with age (graph 9.3). For example, 1.3% of 0-4 year olds were reported to have a circulatory system disease compared to 67% of those aged 85 years and over. The types of circulatory system diseases also change with age. Young children and babies are more likely to suffer from congenital heart diseases while for older people, high blood pressure (hypertensive disease) is the most common circulatory disease.

The proportion of those reporting a mental or behavioural condition rises in the early-teen years and remains stable until their early 60s when the proportion declines. In the ages up to the mid-teens, males have a higher rate of mental disorders than females. However, during the teenage and adult years, the prevalence of mental disorders of females overtakes those of males. This is due mainly to the increase of mood disorders such as depression. Mood disorder rates start to decline for women around their early 70s, the age from which overall mental disorder rates between males and females are similar.

Age is also a determining factor for self-reported asthma rates. The prevalence rises from 8.2% for 0-4 year olds up to 18% for 15-19 year olds, before steadily declining with age.

Graph - 9.3 Selected long-term conditions - 2001


Mortality

There were 128,544 deaths registered in 2001, consisting of 66,835 male and 61,709 female deaths. The number of deaths registered in 2001 represented an increase of 0.2% on the corresponding figure for 2000 (128,291 deaths). Malignant neoplasms (cancer) and ischaemic heart diseases were the leading underlying causes of death, accounting for 29% and 20% respectively of total deaths registered (table 9.4).

9.4 LEADING CAUSES OF DEATH - 2001

Males
Females
Persons
Proportion of
total deaths
Cause of death (ICD-10 code)
no.
no.
no.
%

All causes
66,835
61,709
128,544
100.0
Malignant neoplasms (cancer) (C00-C97)
20,753
15,997
36,750
28.6
Trachea, bronchus and lung (C33, C34)
4,642
2,396
7,038
5.5
Ischaemic heart diseases (I20-I25)
13,906
12,328
26,234
20.4
Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke) (I60-I69)
4,852
7,294
12,146
9.4
Chronic lower respiratory diseases (incl. asthma,
emphysema and bronchitis) (J40-J47)
3,419
2,497
5,916
4.6
Accidents (V01-X59)
3,155
1,685
4,840
3.8
Transport accidents (V01-V99)
1,495
509
2,004
1.6
Diabetes mellitus (E10-E14)
1,639
1,439
3,078
2.4
Diseases of arteries, arterioles and capillaries
(incl. atherosclerosis and aortic aneurysm) (I70-I79)
1,381
1,244
2,625
2.0
Intentional self-harm (X60-X84)
1,935
519
2,454
1.9
Organic, including symptomatic, mental disorders (F00-F09)
683
1,454
2,137
1.7
Influenza and pneumonia (J10-J18)
1,184
1,518
2,702
2.1
All other causes
13,928
15,734
29,662
23.1

Source: Causes of Death, Australia, 2001 (3303.0).

During the decade up to 2001, the total number of deaths registered annually increased by approximately 7.3%. However, the standardised death rate of 662 deaths per 100,000 population in 2001 was 20% lower than the corresponding rate of 829 in 1991. These outcomes are consistent with continuing improvements in life expectancy in Australia.

Over the 10 years to 2001, there were quite different patterns of decline in the two leading causes of death, malignant neoplasms and ischaemic heart diseases, which together account for nearly half the total deaths. Between 1991 and 2001, the standardised death rate for malignant neoplasms decreased by 10%, while the rate for ischaemic heart diseases decreased by 37% (graph 9.5).

Graph - 9.5 Standardised death rates


International comparisons

Healthy life expectancy

The WHO has proposed healthy life expectancy as a measure of the expected number of years to be lived without reduced functioning. Healthy life expectancy calculations adjust the overall life expectancy (see Life expectancy -Population) by the years of life lived with reduced functioning because of ill health.

Australia's healthy life expectancy is among the highest in the world. Australian males can expect to live 70.1 years of life without reduced functioning, and females 73.2 years. Table 9.6 shows healthy life expectancy for selected countries in 2001.

9.6 HEALTHY LIFE EXPECTANCY, Selected countries - 2001

Healthy life expectancy
years

Males
Japan
71.4
Switzerland
71.1
Sweden
70.5
Iceland
70.5
Australia
70.1
Norway
69.3
Denmark
69.3
Italy
69.2
New Zealand
69.1
France
69.0
Greece
69.0
Austria
68.9
Spain
68.7
United Kingdom
68.4
Germany
68.3
Canada
68.2
Singapore
67.9
Belgium
67.7
Ireland
67.6
Finland
66.7
United States of America
66.4
Portugal
64.3
Poland
62.1
Russia
51.5
South Africa
40.0
Females
Japan
75.8
Switzerland
74.4
Sweden
74.4
France
73.5
Australia
73.2
Austria
73.0
Spain
73.0
Italy
72.9
Finland
72.5
Norway
72.2
Germany
72.2
Iceland
71.9
Greece
71.9
Belgium
71.8
Canada
71.6
New Zealand
71.5
United Kingdom
70.9
Denmark
70.8
Ireland
70.4
Singapore
69.5
Portugal
69.4
United States of America
68.8
Poland
66.6
Russia
61.9
South Africa
42.7

Source: WHO 2002.

Infant mortality rates (IMR)

IMR is defined as the number of deaths per 1,000 live births between birth and exactly one year of age. According to the United Nations, the projected world infant mortality rate for 2000-05 is 55 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Australia stands at 5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, which is among the lowest in the world (table 9.7). Overall the most developed regions have an IMR (8 per 1,000 live births) much lower than the less developed regions (59 per 1,000 live births) and the least developed countries (92 per 1,000 live births) (table 9.7).

9.7 INTERNATIONAL INFANT MORTALITY RATES, Selected years

Country
1950-55
1960-65
1970-75
1980-85
1990-95
1995-2000
2000-05(a)

Japan
51
25
12
7
4
4
3
Sweden
20
15
10
7
5
4
3
Hong Kong (SAR of China)
79
33
17
10
5
4
4
Singapore
66
30
19
8
6
5
5
Germany
51
29
21
11
6
5
5
Australia
24
20
17
10
7
5
5
Canada
36
26
16
9
6
6
5
France
45
25
16
9
7
6
5
United Kingdom
29
22
17
11
7
6
5
Spain
62
42
21
11
7
6
5
Italy
60
40
26
13
7
6
5
New Zealand
26
21
16
12
7
7
6
Greece
60
50
34
15
9
7
6
United States of America
28
25
18
11
9
8
7
Korea, Republic of (South)
115
70
38
23
12
8
7
Malaysia
99
63
42
28
15
12
10
Vietnam
158
130
107
70
47
40
34
China (excl. SARs &
Taiwan Prov.)
195
121
61
52
47
41
37
Indonesia
201
166
126
89
59
48
40
Papua New Guinea
158
134
112
91
76
69
62
Yemen
241
219
184
126
92
74
62
India
190
157
132
107
79
73
65
Somalia
207
179
155
143
165
122
113
Niger
213
191
171
156
144
136
126
Developed regions(b)
59
33
21
15
10
8
8
Less developed regions(c)
180
137
105
88
71
65
59
Least developed regions(d)
197
171
149
127
110
102
92
World
157
119
94
79
64
60
55

(a) The projected 2000-05 infant mortality rate uses the medium variant.
(b) Comprising Europe, Northern America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
(c) Comprising Africa, Asia (excluding Japan), Latin America and the Caribbean, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
(d) Comprising 48 countries, as defined by the United Nations General Assembly in 1998, 33 in Africa, 9 in Asia, 1 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 5 in Oceania.
Source: UN 2000.

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