Health care in Australia


Health care in Australia

Health care in Australia is provided by both private and government institutions. The Minister for Health and Ageing, currently the Hon. Nicola Roxon MP, administers national health policy. Primary health care remains the responsibility of the federal government.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is the regulatory body for medicines and medical devices in Australia. At the borders the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service is responsible for maintaining a favourable health status by minimising risk from goods and people entering the country. The Australian Red Cross collects blood donations.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is Australia's national agency for health and welfare statistics and information. Its biennial publication "Australia's health" is a key national information resource in the area of health care. The Institute publishes over 140 reports each year on various aspects of Australia's health and welfare.

National health policy

Services have been moving from a mostly publicly-funded health care model to a mixed market with a growing health care industry responsible for health care management. Essentially this has been driven by two-tier health care policy where payment methods have been encouraged via third party insurers who charge an annual fee to cover potential health care costs, from the fee free model based bulk billing service by a general practitioner. Currently the GP bulk billing rate is 78%.Fact|date=May 2008

Programs

The federal government agency Medicare Australia is responsible for administering programs like the universal health care-based Medicare and medicine subsidies under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Immunisations and vaccinations are conducted under the [http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/nips National Immunisation Program Schedule] .

The federal government provides a health care card to low income earners that entitles the holder to cheaper medicines under the PBS and reduced costs for some services such as dental and glasses. The health care card sometimes provides concessions from state and local government authorities such as discounted public transport fares.

State based projects are regularly setup to target specific problems such as breast cancer screening programs, indigenous youth health programs or school dental health, for example.

The Australian Organ Donor Register is also maintained by the federal government.

Issues

Aboriginal Health

Indigenous Australian health and wellbeing statistics indicate Aboriginal Australians are much less healthy than the rest of the Australian community. One leading indicator, infant mortality rates, including stillbirths and deaths in the first month of life, show Aboriginal infants die twice as often as non-indigenous Australians.cite book |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors=Queensland Government |title=Priorities in Progress, Queensland 2005-06 | url = http://www.treasury.qld.gov.au/office/knowledge/docs/priorities/2005-06 |year=2006 |publisher=Queensland Treasury] . Another revealing statistic is the 17-year gap in average life expectancy between indigenous and other Australians.

Preventable diseases

is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia. [ [http://www.quitnow.info.au/internet/quitnow/publishing.nsf/content/warnings-graph Smoking - A Leading Cause of Death] The National Tobacco Campaign. Retrieved on 17 October 2007.] Australia has one of the highest proportions of overweight citizens in the developed nations in the world. [ [http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/Publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-hlthwt-obesity.htm About Overweight and Obesity] . Department of Health and Ageing. Retrieved on 29 August 2008.] Consequently Australians are constantly reminded by initiatives and advertising, to eat healthy foods and maintain an exercise program to avoid suffering obesity related disease such as diabetes.

Poor services

State governments are responsible for managing hospitals and community health care centres. Services across the country have been routinely criticised for lengthy waiting times in emergency rooms and for non-life threatening operationsFact|date=December 2007. Poor standards at New South Wales hospitals were highlighted after Jana Horska had a miscarriage in an emergency room toilet at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital.

Remote, rural and regional services

Many parts of remote and rural Australia suffer from a shortage of doctors and health care services, so the federal government started the Medical Rural Bonded Scheme to encourage medical practitioners to settle in rural areas. The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides medical services to remote stations and communities separated by great distances. The Kimberly and Pilbara regions of Western Australia are at a crisis point due to a chronic lack of GPs.

Other

Australian health statistics show that chronic disease such as rheumatic heart disease, particularly strokes which reflects a more affluent lifestyle is a common cause of death. Australians are prone to a high skin cancer rate with cancers reducing and disabling Queensland the most.

The Morris Inquiry and then the Davies Inquiry, were instigated after whistleblower Toni Hoffman reported medical malpractices by hospital doctor Jayant Patel

Other issues include compensation for victims of asbestos exposure related disease and the slow development of HealthConnect. The provision of adequate mental health services and the quality of aged care, are other problems in some parts of the countryFact|date=December 2007.

Initiatives

*National Alcohol Strategy 2006-2009
* [http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/ Health insite] - Reliable health information
* [http://www.doctorconnect.gov.au/ DoctorConnect] - To encourage overseas doctors, to work in Australia.

Peak bodies

*Australian Medical Association
*Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

ee also

*Birth rate and fertility rate in Australia
*HIV/AIDS in Australia
* Health care systems
*List of hospitals in Australia
*Medical education in Australia
*Nursing in Australia
*Paramedics in Australia
*Poverty in Australia

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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