Health round-up: Cancer burdening Australians, poor preventative health and NSW fights obesity

Peter Terlato 15 June 2017 NEWS


A weekly round-up of Australia's latest healthcare news.

Cancer is the most burdensome disease for Australians

Cancer is the disease group that has the greatest health impact or "burden" on Australians, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The AIHW Burden of cancer in Australia: Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 found cancer takes years off our lives, either years lost to early death or years of healthy life stripped as a result of living with the disease.

Although other conditions such as cardiovascular disease, are more common and cause more deaths, cancer takes more years due to younger deaths.

Five types of cancer account for almost half of the cancer burden: lung, bowel, breast, prostate and pancreatic.

Australia ranks poorly in preventative health

Australia spends far less than other OECD countries, such as Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom on preventative healthcare according to a new report from La Trobe University's Department of Public Health.

The report revealed Australia ranks 16th out of 31 OECD countries by per capita expenditure.

One in two Aussies are burdened with a chronic disease, responsible for 83% of all premature deaths.

Despite this, Australia spends just over $2 billion on preventive healthcare annually. This equates to approximately $89 per person and just 1.34% of total healthcare expenditure.

NSW Government battling obesity

New South Wales will become the first Australian state to cease the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks, such as cola and carbonated lemonade, from all onsite cafes, vending machines, staff kiosks and catering services at health facilities and hospitals.

The initiative will be introduced by December across the state and is part of NSW Health's new Healthy Choices in Health Facilities policy framework.

"We are working toward a 5% reduction in overweight and obesity rates in adults by 2020, and there's no better way to start than right here on our own doorstep," NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said.

What else is happening?

Despite no rise in the prevalence of mental health disorders, the proportion of Australians receiving a disability pension for psychiatric conditions has risen substantially between 2001 and 2014, according to new research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Each week our round-up offers a summary of the latest developments impacting Australian healthcare and most importantly, you, the consumer. Check in every Thursday to find out what's happening in health.

Picture: Shutterstock

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