The Australian health system has a diversity of arrangements for planning, funding, delivering and regulating health services, featuring a mix of private and public sector involvement.
The Australian Government, through the Health and Ageing portfolio, has significant financial and policy responsibility for health services, including hospitals, public health and mental health, while the state and territory governments are largely responsible for the direct provision of such services. Local governments and non-government organisations are also involved in the direct provision of health services. Private, non-salaried practitioners provide most medical, dental and allied health care. Two major national subsidy schemes, Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, are funded by the Australian Government to cover all Australian citizens and permanent residents, and are discussed in the section Health care delivery and financing. In 2002-03 total expenditure on health as a proportion for Australia's gross domestic product was 9.5%.
Under the National Health Information Agreement, to which the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and the various state and territory health authorities are signatories, the National Health Information Development Plan sets out agreed national priorities for health information to be considered by the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council.
The chapter provides information on various aspects of the health of the population and the health-related activities of government and other bodies. A listing of web sites is provided at the end of this chapter where additional information on health topics and organisations involved in health-related activities can be obtained.
The chapter contains two articles. The first, Cancer trends, examines incidence of cancer, cancer mortality and relative survival ratios of persons with cancer since the early-1980s. The second, Living with asthma, examines rates of asthma in 2001 and associated outcomes such as hospitalisation and the use of asthma medication.