Public health spending up 12.5%, immunisation dominates

Total spending on public health activities in Australia grew by 12.5% in 2006-07, with immunisation activities responsible for most of the increase, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Public health expenditure in Australia 2006-07, shows that organised immunisation programs accounted for $436 million or 25% of the $1.7 billion spent on public health activities by Commonwealth and state and territory health departments in 2006-07.

'Of all the areas of public health activity, immunisation showed the highest real growth at 31%,' said Gail Brien of the Institute's Expenditure and Economics Unit.

'This increase was mostly due to the introduction from April 2007 of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program, which vaccinates against the main cause of cervical cancer,' she said.

'Another important area of expenditure was screening programs for cervical, breast and bowel cancer which accounted for $262 million or 15% of the total amount spent on public health activities.'

'The increase in expenditure on public health activities over the 7 years from 1999-00 to 2005-06 was similar to growth in total recurrent spending on health in Australia for those 7 years.

'So, we expect that spending on public health activities in 2006-07, as a proportion of total recurrent health expenditure, will remain at the level of previous years at just under 2%,' Ms Brien explained.

The Australian Government provided $1,001 million or 58% of the funding for public health activities in 2006-07.

Of this, $508 million was funding for its own programs and $493 million was provided to state and territory governments to fund activities for which the states and territories were responsible.

State and territory governments provided $714 million or 42% of the funding for public health activities in 2006-07.

The Northern Territory had the highest average per person expenditure on public health at $316, nearly four times the national average of $82 per person.


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