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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/04/2008   
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Contents >> Torres Strait Islander Peoples >> HEALTH INDICATORS

HEALTH INDICATORS

Self-assessed health and long-term health conditions

In the 2004-05 NATSIHS, 44% of Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over reported that their health was excellent or very good while 23% said they had fair or poor health. These were similar to the rates reported by all Indigenous people (43% and 22% respectively).

Almost three-quarters (73%) of Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over had a long-term health condition in 2004-05, similar to the proportion of all Indigenous people of the same age (77%) (table 12.16). Reporting of long-term conditions by Torres Strait Islander people living in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region was comparable to those living in other areas (70% and 73% respectively).

The most commonly reported long-term conditions among Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over were eye/sight problems (38%) and back pain/problems (18%). While the prevalence of most long-term conditions were similar in the Torres Strait Islander and total Indigenous populations, Torres Strait Islander people were less likely to report heart disease and/or circulatory problems (13% compared with 18%).

12.16 HEALTH STATUS AND SELECTED LONG-TERM CONDITIONS, by Indigenous status - 2004-05

Torres Strait Islander(a)
Total Indigenous

Self-assessed health
Excellent/very good %
44.5
43.2
Good %
32.6
34.9
Fair/poor %
22.9
21.9
Eye/sight problems %
38.4
43.6
Back pain/symptoms %
18.3
20.9
Heart and circulatory problems/diseases %
(b)13.2
(b)18.1
Asthma %
12.7
15.8
Ear/hearing problems %
12.1
13.9
Arthritis %
11.6
14.6
Diabetes/high sugar levels %
8.8
9.8
Has a long-term condition %
72.9
77.3
No long-term condition %
27.1
22.7
Total persons aged 15 years and over '000
30.7
29.4

(a) Includes persons who were of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.
(b) Difference between Torres Strait Islander and Indigenous data is statistically significant.
Source: ABS 2004-05 NATSIHS



12.17 IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE CREATES POSITIVE HEALTH OUTCOMES FOR TORRES STRAIT COMMUNITIES

The incidence of water and hygiene-associated communicable diseases in the Torres Strait region decreased in the period 1996 to 2006. This has been attributed to improvements in the region’s environmental health infrastructure as part of the Torres Strait’s Major Infrastructure Program (MIP). The facilities delivered through MIP in a partnership between the Torres Strait Regional Authority and the Queensland Department of Local Government, Planning, Sport and Recreation, are producing positive health outcomes in the 15 outer Torres Strait Island communities and the two Northern Peninsula communities of Bamaga and Seisia.

In the Torres Strait region, notifications of environmental health-related diseases such as Shigellosis, Salmonella, and Hepatitis A halved between 1996 and 2006, according to data from the Queensland Notifiable Conditions Database (NOCS). Close to 40 cases were reported in the region in 1996 and under 20 cases were reported in 2006. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2006, 88% of global environmental infectious diseases such as diarrhoea were attributable to poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

Since 1998, developments in the Torres Strait region have included increased access to clean and safe drinking water, flushing toilets, serviced housing lots, sealed roads and drainage systems. Island Councils are better able to manage community waste through the installation of sewerage treatment plants and improved refuse control techniques. Projects commenced in 2007 continued to improve infrastructure standards in the region, including further installation of portable desalination units for the use of island communities affected by drought conditions in recent years.
Source: TSRA media release, MIP Continues To Deliver, 20/02/2007.


Risk factors

In 2004-05, around half (49%) of Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years or over were current daily smokers. This is similar to the rate reported by the overall Indigenous population (50%). Torres Strait Islander people living in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region reported lower rates of regular smoking than did those in other parts of Australia (38% compared with 51%).

The 2004-05 NATSIHS collected two measures of alcohol consumption using National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines - one on long-term use and the other on short-term, heavy use (binge drinking). For further information, see the Glossary and Chapter 8 of this publication.

In 2004-05, 13% of Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years or over reported long-term risky or high risk alcohol consumption and 16% reported risky or high risk short-term alcohol consumption. These rates of alcohol consumption were not significantly different from those reported by Indigenous people overall (table 12.18).

A sedentary lifestyle, defined by very low levels of exercise or no exercise at all, was reported by 36% of the 22,700 Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over in non-remote parts of Australia. Indigenous people overall were more likely to be sedentary, with 47% of those aged 15 years or over in non-remote areas reporting that they do very little or no exercise. Despite their greater engagement in physical exercise, Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over in non-remote areas were just as likely as Indigenous people overall to be overweight or obese (57% and 56% respectively).

In non-remote areas in 2004-05, 45% of Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over who agreed to answer questions regarding substance use reported that they had used illicit substances, and 31% had used illicit substances in the past 12 months. These rates of illicit substance use were not significantly different from those of the overall Indigenous population.

12.18 SELECTED HEALTH RISK FACTORS - 2004-05

Torres Strait Islander(a)
Total Indigenous

Current daily smoker %
49.4
50.0
Risky/high risk alcohol consumption
long-term %
13.0
16.5
short-term %
16.0
19.3
Total persons aged 18 years and over %
100.0
100.0
no.
26 600
258 300
Overweight %
29.1
27.5
Obese %
27.9
28.7
Total overweight and obese %
57.0
56.2
Total persons aged 15 years and over in non-remote areas who reported a BMI(b) %
100.0
100.0
no.
19 900
177 500
Persons aged 15 years and over in non-remote areas who did not report a BMI(b) no.
2 800
35 900
Has used illicit substances
during lifetime %
44.9
49.1
in last 12 months %
30.7
28.2
Has never used illicit substances %
53.9
49.1
Total persons aged 15 years and over in non-remote areas who answered substance use form(c) %
100.0
100.0
no.
17 600
165 600
Persons aged 15 years and over in non-remote areas who did not answer substance use form no.
5 100
47 900

(a) Includes persons who were of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.
(b) For an explanation of Body Mass Index, refer to Glossary.
(c) Includes persons who did not state whether they had ever used illicit substances.
Source: ABS 2004-05 NATSIHS



Hospitalisations

A hospital separation (hospitalisation) refers to an admitted patient completing an episode of care in hospital, by being discharged, transferring to another hospital or care facility, or dying. It is therefore possible for the same patient to be counted more than once if they are hospitalised on multiple occasions. For further information on hospital separations, refer to the 2005 edition of this report (ABS & AIHW 2005). While Indigenous identification in hospital separations data are incomplete nationally, coverage in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory is sufficient to support statistics on hospitalisations of Torres Strait Islander people. In 2005-06, these jurisdictions recorded 15,216 hospitalisations involving Torres Strait Islander people, accounting for 8% of all hospitalisations of Indigenous people. More than half (56%) of all hospitalisations involving Torres Strait Islander people were for females, similar to the pattern for Indigenous people overall (57%).

Hospitalisations of Torres Strait Islander females were most common for those of child-bearing age (15-34 years) (29%), and for those aged 35-54 years (26%). The hospitalisation rate for Torres Strait Islander males aged 35-54 years (40%) was significantly higher than for males in other age groups (graph 12.19).

12.19 HOSPITALISATIONS(a), Torres Strait Islander persons(b) - 2005-06
Graph: 12.19 Hospitalisations by sex and age, Torres Strait Islander persons, NSW, Vic., Qld, WA, SA and NT combined, 2005-06


During 2005-06, kidney disease involving dialysis was the most commonly recorded principal diagnosis, accounting for 39% of hospitalisations of Torres Strait Islander people, similar to the hospitalisation rate for dialysis for Indigenous people overall (41%) (table 12.20). Over half (53%) of hospitalisations for dialysis treatment of Torres Strait Islander males involved those aged less than 55 years. The corresponding proportion of hospitalisations involving Torres Strait Islander females less than 55 years was 45%.

12.20 HOSPITALISATIONS BY PRINCIPAL DIAGNOSIS(a), for Indigenous persons - 2005-06

Torres Strait Islander(b)
Total Indigenous
no.
%
no.
%

Certain infectious and parasitic diseases (A00-B99)
285
1.5
5 249
2.2
Neoplasms (C00-D48)
435
2.3
3 532
1.5
Diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs and certain disorders involving the immune mechanism (D50-D89)
124
0.7
1 161
0.5
Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases (E00-E90)
400
2.1
4 797
2.0
Mental and behavioural disorders (F00-F99)
726
3.8
10 083
4.1
Diseases of the nervous system (G00-G99)
192
1.0
3 347
1.4
Diseases of the eye and adnexa (H00-H59)
158
0.8
1 170
0.5
Diseases of the ear and mastoid process (H60-H95)
104
0.6
1 714
0.7
Diseases of the circulatory system (I00-I99)
644
3.4
7 859
3.2
Diseases of the respiratory system (J00-J99)
921
4.9
15 722
6.5
Diseases of the digestive system (K00-K93)
1 119
5.9
12 906
5.3
Diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue (L00-L99)
386
2.0
5 599
2.3
Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (M00-M99)
416
2.2
4 205
1.7
Diseases of the genitourinary system (N00-N99)
556
2.9
6 220
2.6
Pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (O00-O99)
1 807
9.6
18 012
7.4
Certain conditions originating in the perinatal period (P00-P96)
241
1.3
2 601
1.1
Congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities (Q00-Q99)
109
0.6
879
0.4
Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, n.e.c. (R00-R99)
642
3.4
10 461
4.3
Injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (S00-T98)
1 261
6.7
18 843
7.8
Factors influencing health status and contact with health services (Z00-Z99 excluding Z49)
1 001
5.3
8 529
3.5
Total excluding care involving dialysis
11 529
61.0
142 953
58.8
Care involving dialysis (Z49)
7 367
39.0
100 153
41.2
Total(c)
18 896
100.0
243 106
100.0

(a) Data are for NSW, Vic., Qld, WA, SA and NT combined, based on state/territory of usual residence. Excludes private hospitals in the NT.
(b) Includes patients who were of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.
(c) Includes hospitalisations for which no principal diagnosis was reported.
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database


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