Almost half of Australians are living with a chronic health condition, a report has said.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on Thursday published its latest two-yearly report on the nation’s health.
The report found that the life expectancy rate at birth increased to 83.0 years in 2020, or the sixth-highest rate among the 38 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries.
However, with people living longer the number of Australians with at least one chronic health condition such as diabetes, cancer or mental conditions has increased to 11.6 million, or 47 per cent of the population.
“With a population that is living longer, we are now experiencing higher rates of chronic and age-related conditions, such as dementia,” Matthew James, deputy chief executive of AIHW, said in a statement.
“For example, we know that older Australians use a higher proportion of hospital and other health services and 54 per cent of all subsidised medicines were dispensed to people aged 65 and over,” explained Mr James.
According to the AIHW, two-thirds of Australian adults are either overweight or obese, and carrying excess weight accounted for 8.4 per cent of Australia’s total disease burden.
Meanwhile, the report found the rate of “excess mortality,” which showed the difference between the actual number of deaths compared with the expected number based on previous trends, jumped significantly in 2022.
Mr James said this measure included both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 deaths, reflecting both the direct and indirect impact of the pandemic.
“Death rates were decreasing before the onset of the pandemic, with this trend continuing in 2020 and 2021. When variation is taken into account, there were 205 fewer deaths than expected in 2020 and 94 more deaths than expected in 2021,” he added. “However, there was a marked change in January and February 2022, with 3,105 more deaths than expected in those two months alone.”