While Australians have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, premature deaths are linked to inequality and live in remote areas and contribute to stagnation in overall national life expectancy.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne analyzed death registration data that was not identified from the decade to the end of 2016. This data records the age of death and residence, which allows analysts to match it with distant location and socioeconomic profile.
They found that premature deaths between the ages of 35 and 74 occurred in the lowest socioeconomic region with double the highest mortality rates. This gap widens by 26% for women and 14% for men. People who live in remote, remote and very remote areas have an early death rate of around 40% higher than in large cities, and this gap is also increasing, research published in the peer-reviewed journal, Australian Population Studies, Monday found .
The overall life expectancy for Australia is 80.5 years for men and 84.6 years for women. The study found the highest excess mortality compared to the national average reported for the Northern Territory, Hobart, outer regions, remote and very remote areas of New South Wales. Specifically, mortality rates between the ages of 35 and 74 among the lowest socio-economic quintiles and outside major cities have not fallen since 2011.
“Even in large cities, there has been a widening of inequality in mortality rates between lower and higher regional socioeconomic deciles, but notably there is no reduction in the rate of decline in mortality in the highest decile,” the study found.
While the study did not examine the cause of death, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows that in the lowest socioeconomic region, smoking prevalence is 2.7 times higher and obesity is 1.6 times higher than in the highest socioeconomic country. Dr Tim Adair, from the Global Burden of Disease Group, University of Melbourne, said obesity in particular was a problem. While the health promotion campaign has brought great success in reducing overall smoking rates over time, the campaign has had little effect on obesity rates, which have increased across Australia.
“Particularly worsening among young adults, and as we get older, this will be even more alarming because they will reach an age where obesity can interact with other health conditions and it may have a detrimental impact on life expectancy,” he said.
He said it was unclear why early death rates in low socioeconomic areas were higher for women than men, but he said much of that might be related to life expectancy for women who were generally higher than men.
“So there is an element of men chasing after women because the gap between men and women is reduced,” he said.
Dr Melissa Stoneham, a joint researcher and former director of the Western Australian Community Health Advocacy Institute, said she was recently in a remote area where one can of formula milk is worth $ 64. Fresh produce is also much more expensive in rural, regional and isolated.
“Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders live in remote communities, especially in the Northern Territory and Western Australia,” he said. “We know that their life expectancy is far lower than for non-Indigenous people. Many regional communities are also peasant communities, with young people who do not have the same opportunities on agriculture as they used to and go, creating an older age demographic. [that are] more vulnerable to disease and more difficult to access health care. “
He said the key way to overcome losses was to provide essential services to affected communities.
“Of course, including services in remote communities is very expensive to do,” he said. “It’s true some people choose to live in this community but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to access the same services. They are people, who live in our country. Why don’t you buy ready meals from chips when fruit and fruit vegetables are very expensive and a large portion of your income or social security payments? “
Aunt Kerrie Doyle, an Aboriginal health professor Torres Strait Islander from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of West Sydney, said with a payment of $ 1,500 each week available under a work guard scheme during the Covid-19 pandemic, many were able to buy fresh food for the person. the first time. He is currently part of a study examining how Covid-19 related subsidies are used by Aboriginal people, and as part of it collects data from shops in remote communities.
“People say Aboriginal people will only spend money on smoking and alcohol, but our data shows that is not the case,” Doyle said. “There has been a massive increase in spending and there has been a dramatic, double increase in almost all people about spending on fruit and vegetables. Children will not starve. And when people are less stressed, hungry and poor, the level of domestic violence goes down and we see that in communities like Katherine in the North. “
People who live in the area not only need resources, but hope for the future, to improve their health, he said. “If you watch television and see people going sailing and traveling and getting a good education and you know things are out of your reach, why don’t you smoke?”
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