Australia is generally a healthy nation but there are some key areas where we could do better, according to the latest report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The two-yearly report card, Australia’s health 2018, was launched today by the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health.
The report shows that Australia sits squarely in the best third of OECD countries when it comes to life expectancy, with girls born in 2016 likely to live 84.6 years, while boys can expect to live to 80.4 years.
Fewer of us are smoking or putting ourselves at risk from long-term alcohol use than in the past. More of our children have been immunised and we’re doing well in terms of preventing avoidable deaths.
At an individual level, we’re feeling the effects of these good results, with more than 4 in every 5 Australians grading their own health to be at least ‘good’—if not ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.
But with a population that is living longer, we are now experiencing higher rates of chronic and age-related conditions. For example, we know that older Australians use a higher proportion of hospital and other health services and 75% of all PBS medicines were dispensed to people aged 50 and over. And with health spending continuing to rise—reaching $170 billion in 2015–16 and outstripping population growth—we see the important role our health system plays in both prevention and treatment.