AIHW news

The Australian Burden of Disease Study: a new edition!

The article was originally posted on LinkedIn by Richard Juckes, Health Group Head, AIHW.

Since the Australian Burden of Disease Study (ABDS) was first published in 1999, the AIHW has released updated estimates for the reference years 2003, 2011, 2015, and now… 2018!

The ABDS 2018: key findings report tells us the overall health of Australians continues to improve, with a 13% decline in total burden between 2003 and 2018 largely driven by continued declines in dying prematurely from diseases and injuries such as coronary heart disease. However, further gains could be achieved by reducing leading risk factors such as tobacco use, overweight and obesity, and high blood pressure—accounting for over one-third (38%) of the burden.

Every year in Australia, millions of years of heathy life are lost because of injury, illness or premature deaths. This loss of healthy life is what we call ‘burden of disease’. Burden of disease analysis measures these impacts, by looking at the number of years living with an illness or injury (the non-fatal burden) or lost through dying prematurely (the fatal burden).

The ABDS 2018 includes 219 diseases, as well as estimates of the burden attributable to 40 individual risk factors, such as alcohol use and physical inactivity. The Study includes results for 2003, 2011 and 2015 for comparison, as well as estimates by state/territory, remoteness area and socioeconomic groups.

Full results, including more detailed reports and interactive data visualisations, are planned for release in November 2021.

This is a significant resource for monitoring population health and providing an evidence base to inform health policy and service planning. Congratulations to all the teams involved!

I would also like to congratulate members of the AIHW Burden of Disease team and Expert Advisory Group for their journal article which was recently published in the high impact journal: International Journal of Epidemiology. Read it here.

While data in today’s report predates the COVID-19 pandemic, an upcoming report from the AIHW, The first year of COVID-19 in Australia: direct and indirect health effects, contains information on the burden of disease from COVID-19 in 2020 (data is not available for 2021). Due to Australia’s success in containing the virus during the first year, the burden due to COVID-19 was very low, ranking around 135th out of 219 diseases based on 2018 numbers.

Keep an eye out in late 2021, for detailed findings from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018, and a report detailing the burden of disease experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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