1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
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Contents >> Health >> National Health Priority Areas

The health of Australians is among the best in the world. Nationwide efforts, such as the recognition of national health priority areas, will help to ensure that this status continues.

The National Health Priority Areas (NHPA) initiative emphasises collaborative action between Commonwealth Government and the State and Territory Governments, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), non-government organisations, appropriate experts, clinicians and consumers. It is overseen by the National Health Priority Action Council (NHPAC) which was established as a sub-committee of the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) in June 2000, and comprises representatives of Commonwealth Government, the State and Territory Governments, Indigenous groups and consumer groups.

At present, six priority areas have been endorsed by Australian Health Ministers. These are:

  • cardiovascular health;
  • cancer control;
  • injury prevention and control;
  • mental health;
  • diabetes mellitus; and
  • asthma.

A range of program initiatives has been established, aimed at improving health outcomes in these areas, which together account for approximately 70% of the burden of disease and cost in Australia. The NHPA initiative recognises that specific strategies for reducing the burden of illness should be holistic, encompassing the continuum of care from prevention through treatment and management to rehabilitation and palliation, and should be underpinned by evidence based on appropriate research.

Diseases and conditions are identified as national health priorities through a national consultation process which considers issues related to their impact on the community and the potential for programs and interventions, as well as the feasibility of measuring the effect of these activities. Sets of indicators are being developed to assist in monitoring the priority areas and in particular the efficacy of program interventions.

In addition to the NHPA initiative, the National Public Health Partnership has endorsed the National Health Performance Committee's new National Health Performance Framework (NHPF). The NHPF covers a range of health system performance measures, as well as measures of population health status and outcomes and health determinants. Work is progressing on the development of a set of indicators for reporting against the NHPF.

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