A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and
Welfare, Health in Rural and Remote Australia, compares
the health of people living in rural and remote zones with those in
metropolitan zones and has expected and unexpected findings.
Few people will be surprised to know that death rates from road
vehicle accidents increase with increasing remoteness, but some
will be surprised to learn that death rates from two major causes
of death, stroke and cancer, vary little between the rural and
remote areas and metropolitan areas.
The AIHW's first report devoted entirely to the health of rural
and remote area Australians, Health in Rural and Remote
Australia, is to be launched on Tuesday by the Minister for
Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Dr Michael Wooldridge, and the
Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon. John
Using the three zone/seven category Rural, Remote and
Metropolitan Area classification, the report provides both data and
analyses in chapters covering sociodemographics, health status,
risk factors and preventive measures, health resources, and
emerging issues. A wide range of national health data sources are
used including death registrations, hospital statistics and the ABS
1995 National Health Survey.
People in rural and remote areas of Australia have poorer health
than their metropolitan counterparts on several counts, including
higher death rates and consequent lower life expectancy.
Australia's Indigenous peoples make up 2% of the whole
population, ranging from 1% in the metropolitan zone and 3% in the
rural zone to 21% in the remote zone. Co-author of the report, Dr
Kathleen Strong, said that the impact of the generally poorer
health of the Indigenous population on death rates and life
expectancy is substantial only in the remote zone. She also said
that care needs to be taken when interpreting these
statistics-reliable Indigenous deaths data for 1992-1996 are
available for only South Australia, Western Australia and the
Dr Strong said there's nothing simple about rural and remote
area health issues. 'For example, we see that overall, in the
remote zone the death rate for Indigenous females is twice as high
as that for all Australians, yet the rate for non-Indigenous
females in that zone is almost 30 percent lower than that for all
Australians. And in both the rural and remote zones the death rates
for Indigenous females are significantly higher than those for
Indigenous females in the metropolitan zone.'
'The report also found no difference in breast cancer screening
rates across all zones, and the percentage of women who have
regular Pap smear tests is similar across all zones.'
1 December 1998
Further information: Dr Kathleen Strong, ph. 02
6244 1050 or 04 1897 9466 (mobile), Mr Phil Trickett, ph. 02 6244
1097, or Dr Kuldeep Bhatia, ph. 02 6244 1144.For media copies of the report: Lena Searle, ph.
02 6244 1032.Availability: Check the AIHW for details.
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