Avoidable deaths falling but still high

Monday, 25 September 2006

A new report released today (Monday, 25 September) by the University of Adelaide's Public Health Information Development Unit shows that more than 70% of deaths of people aged 0 to 74 years are from 'avoidable' causes.

The Australian and New Zealand Atlas of Avoidable Mortality, part-funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, examines deaths from causes that should be avoidable given the existing health and social systems in Australia and current understanding of the health risks associated with particular behaviours.

"For example, smoking is estimated to cause almost one-third of all cancer deaths, and over 80% of deaths from lung cancer - these deaths would not occur if there was no smoking," said John Glover, Director of the Public Health Information Development Unit, a collaborating unit of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

"However, substantial reductions in rates of avoidable mortality have been seen in recent years across all age groups. From 1987 to 2001 the proportion of avoidable deaths for those aged 0 to 74 years, fell from 77.4% to 70.6%, with the rate of cardiovascular diseases now less than half what it was in 1987," Mr Glover said.

More than 60% of all avoidable deaths were caused by certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases. The top 10 causes of avoidable deaths were: heart disease, lung cancer, suicide and self-inflicted injuries, colorectal cancer, cerebrovascular diseases, road traffic injuries, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, breast cancer, diabetes and alcohol-related diseases.

The report found that more than 40% of avoidable deaths were considered "amenable to health care" - deaths that should be avoidable, given current medical knowledge and technology.

Mr Glover said the report showed important differences between males and females, and between socioeconomic groups - varying by 75% between the most disadvantaged and least disadvantaged groups in the population. The rate of deaths from avoidable causes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was 3.7 times the rate for the non-Indigenous population. Avoidable mortality rates were highest in the Northern Territory. Rates in the states were notably lower, with the Australian Capital Territory having the lowest rate of avoidable mortality.

The report is available from www.publichealth.gov.au.


Contact Details

Associate Professor John Glover
Email: john.glover@adelaide.edu.au
Website: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/phidu/
Director, Public Health Information Development Unit
The University of Adelaide
Business: (08) 8313 6237
Mobile: +61 (0)418 801 876

Media Team
Email: media@adelaide.edu.au
Website: https://www.adelaide.edu.au/newsroom/
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814