NACCHO Aboriginal Health —100,000 years of life lost to premature death each year-AIHW Report

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“The diseases for which relative disparities in fatal burden were most pronounced between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations were endocrine disorders, and kidney and urinary diseases-YLL rates for Indigenous Australians were 8 and 7 times the rates for non-Indigenous Australians for these two disease groups respectively.

‘Indigenous Australians living in areas with the most socioeconomic disadvantage experienced the highest rates of fatal burden, while those living in areas with the least socioeconomic disadvantage experienced the lowest YLL rates’,

AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.

Around 3,000 Indigenous Australians die each year, resulting in almost 100,000 years of life lost due to premature death, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Australian Burden of Disease Study: Fatal burden of disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2010, provides estimates of the fatal burden of disease and injury for Indigenous Australians, as well as estimates of the ‘gap’ in fatal burden between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

DOWNLOAD REPORT AIHW Aboriginal Burden of Disease Report

Key findings

  • There were around 2,950 deaths of Indigenous Australians in 2010, resulting in almost 100,000 years of life lost to premature mortality (YLL).
  • In 2010, the rate of fatal burden experienced by Indigenous Australians was 2.6 times the rate of fatal burden experienced by non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Injuries and cardiovascular diseases contributed the most fatal burden for Indigenous Australians (22% and 21% respectively), followed by cancer (17%), infant and congenital conditions (10%), gastrointestinal diseases (6%) and endocrine disorders (5%). These disease groups accounted for 82% of all Indigenous YLL in 2010.
  • Indigenous males had a higher proportion of YLL from injuries than Indigenous females (representing 26% compared to 16% of total YLL). In contrast, cancer represented a higher proportion of total YLL for Indigenous females than for Indigenous males (21% compared to 15% respectively).
  • Deaths in infants (under 1 year) contributed the most to Indigenous YLL (12% for males and 11% for females). This reflects the influence of age at death on the measure of fatal burden. The remaining majority of fatal burden in the Indigenous population is in the middle aged; however, the highest YLL rates per 1,000 population are in the older age groups (aged 70 and over), reflecting higher death rates in these age groups.
  • Infant and congenital conditions accounted for the majority of the fatal burden among Indigenous infants (80% for males and 85% for females). Injuries accounted for the majority of fatal burden among those aged 1-34. Cardiovascular diseases and cancer were the two biggest contributors to total YLL for Indigenous people aged 45 and over. Endocrine disorders (which include diabetes) were also in the top 5 causes of fatal burden for Indigenous people aged 45 and over.
  • The diseases contributing most to the gap in fatal burden between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians were cardiovascular diseases (responsible for 27% of the gap), cancer (15%), injuries (14%) and endocrine disorders (10%). Together, these disease groups accounted for almost two-thirds of the gap in fatal burden of disease in 2010.
  • Endocrine disorders, and kidney and urinary diseases, had the highest relative disparities in fatal burden, with YLL rates for Indigenous Australians being 8 and 7 times the rates for non-Indigenous Australians for these 2 disease groups respectively.
  •  Rates of fatal burden among the Indigenous population were highest in the Northern Territory and Western Australia (of the 4 jurisdictions for which YLL estimates are reported: New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory); and were higher in Remote and Very remote areas compared to Major cities and regional areas. Indigenous YLL rates were highest in areas where the Indigenous population was most socioeconomically disadvantaged and fell with decreasing levels of disadvantage.

Fatal burden is calculated in terms of years of life lost, or YLL, due to deaths occurring earlier than expected. For example, a death occurring in infancy will have a much higher burden or YLL than a death occurring at an older age from something like cardiovascular disease.

Injuries and cardiovascular diseases contributed the most fatal burden for Indigenous Australians (22% and 21% respectively), followed by cancer (17%), infant and congenital conditions (10%), gastrointestinal diseases (6%) and endocrine disorders (which includes diabetes) (5%). These disease groups accounted for 82% of all Indigenous YLL in 2010.

Deaths in infants contributed the most to Indigenous YLL. The fatal burden in Indigenous infants was largely due to infant and congenital conditions, which includes causes such as pre-term birth complications, birth trauma and congenital defects.

Injuries were the leading cause of fatal burden among Indigenous persons aged 1- 34, after which cardiovascular diseases and cancer were most prominent,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.

In 2010, the rate of fatal burden experienced by Indigenous Australians was 2.6 times the rate of fatal burden experienced by non-Indigenous Australians.

YLL rates for injuries and cardiovascular diseases were almost 3 times as high in the Indigenous population.

The diseases for which relative disparities in fatal burden were most pronounced between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations were endocrine disorders, and kidney and urinary diseases-YLL rates for Indigenous Australians were 8 and 7 times the rates for non-Indigenous Australians for these two disease groups respectively.

‘Indigenous Australians living in areas with the most socioeconomic disadvantage experienced the highest rates of fatal burden, while those living in areas with the least socioeconomic disadvantage experienced the lowest YLL rates’, Dr Al-Yaman said.

The AIHW will release a more comprehensive report on the burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in 2016, covering fatal and non-fatal burden for specific causes, as well as the burden attributable to selected health risk factors.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.

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