Australians Live LongerA recent global survey has revealed that the state of Australia’s health is at enviable levels – the country’s population has the third longest life expectancy in the world and it also ranks second worldwide, in terms of life years spent in an illness-free state. The poll, titled the Global Burden of Disease, has found that only people in Iceland and Switzerland live longer and healthier than Aussies. The news is cause for joy, of course, but it also says something about the level of healthcare in Australia – it teaches a valuable lesson for the rest of the world to consider. It’s worth mentioning that the survey is compiled by more than five hundred scientists in fifty countries around the world. Its coordinators hail from the University of Washington.

Another point in support of the above statement comes from individual sets of data, categorized by cause of death. According to the Global Burden of Disease, the leading cause of death in Australia is still heart-related. However, the improvement in this respect is that heart issues killed 32 per cent fewer Australians in 2010, compared to fatalities caused by the same kind of conditions in 1990. On the downside, the second most often encountered cause of death is now lung cancer, not strokes. This aspect points to contradictory approaches when it comes to cigarette smoking, as well as to other habits detrimental to one’s health, such as poor nutrition.

The way things look from an outsider’s perspective, it can also be claimed that Australia has got one of the most competitive and efficient private health insurance systems in the Western world. While Medicare, i.e. the country’s global, universal access system, covers some very basic healthcare costs, Australia’s recent history in this respect is dotted with some mention-worthy government-supported campaigns in favor of private health insurance. Contributors have the liberty to choose from a wide range of providers and, with the advent of the Internet, comparison tools have been made available by Help Me Choose and other platforms. At the same time, income earners have access to a rebate system, which returns a part of the private coverage contribution, according to earning power.

According to the same study cited above, road injuries caused by car accidents are no longer such a major cause for death. The proportion of such cases has dropped by an impressive 40 per cent over the past two decades. Yet while Aussies appear to be taking road safety much more seriously these days, Alzheimer has been significantly climbing up the charts of leading causes of death. Back in 1990, Alzheimer’s disease was ranking as number 26, in terms of conditions determining demise; in 2010, though, it reached the ninth spot in the charts. This can probably be linked to the issue of the population’s accelerated aging, which many had signaled and forecasted since nearly twenty years ago.

Significant progress has been recorded in the quest to educate new parents about sudden infant death syndrome. Back in 1990, this was one of the major risks with which Australia’s newborn babies were faced with. In the meantime, education and prevention campaigns have been implemented and now sudden infant death sits at number 45 on the chart for early death causes – a major improvement compared to the 23rd spot in the same rankings, twenty years before. Early deaths and disability in Australia are mostly caused by the same three issues: coronary disease, pain in the lower back, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Years lost to illness and/or disability are also determined by major depression, disorders of the muscle and skeleton system, pains in the neck, and falls.