How are priority issues for Australia’s health identified?
Epidemiology is study of the patterns and causes of health and disease in populations, and how to apply this study to improve health.
Measures of Epidemiology include
Mortality: no. of deaths in a pop’n from a particular cause over a period of time
Trend – Aust death rate has ↓ by 2/3 over past century, due to ↓ in infectious disease, improved sanitation and living conditions, devel of vaccines and antibiotics
Infant Mortality: the no. of infant deaths in first year of life per 1000 live births
Trend – Steadily ↓ over decades due to improved diagnosis and treatment, improved sanitation, health edu. Indigenous rates > Non-indigenous
Morbidity: is the level of illness, disease or injury in a given pop’n
Trend – More diagnosed with cancer, drop in Prostate cancer rates due to awareness in mid 90’s by media, though rates are increasing again.
Life Expectancy: length of time a person can expect to live
Trend – life expectancy in females is > males. Has increase from 57 in 1907 to 82+ in 2014, however indigenous males/females are much lower than non-indigenous. ↑ due to improved public health measure, edu
Epidemiology can tell us:
Identify health needs and allocate health-care resources accordingly
Describe and compare patterns of health (in groups, communities and populations)
Evaluate health behaviours and strategies to control and prevent disease
Identify and promote behaviours that can improve health status of the overall population
Who uses these measures?
Australian Department of health: allocates funds to areas where Australia lacks health
Department of Education: informs students about health, puts policies in place e.g. no hat no play, main focus is younger generation
Hospitals: so they can prioritise larger problems, Specialists use health promotion strategies, to enforce good health.
Pharmaceutical companies: identify kinds of medications and experimental drug in demand.
Doctors: patterns which they can use towards research. Target patients where health needed most.
However epidemiology does not:
Measure everything about health status e.g quality of life in terms of peoples level of distress e.g.
Take into account: health determinants; the social economic, environmental etc.
Mental illness data is incomplete or non-existent. Not whole picture
Doesn’t show variation in health between subgroups e.g. Indigenous in comparison with non-indigenous.
How do we identify priority issues for Australia’s Health
Social Justice Principles – Equity e.g. Close the Gap i.e. close life expectancy gap via making services and facilities available or subsidising. Access (supportive environment) e.g. Diabetes Bus that does diabetic tests in R or R areas. Diversity: ensuring cultural, religion aren’t being discriminated in opportunities.
Priority Population Groups - specific groups that are affected by a problem, e.g. smokers are affected by lung cancer.
Prevalence of Condition - how wide spread is it e.g. CVD. Potential for prevention and early intervention - working to eliminate risk factors
Costs to the individual and community - how much time off work, insurance, funerals, emotional costs, loss of work, loss of productivity, loss of assets.
What role do the principles of social justice play?
SJP (Social Justice