A new data tool, developed by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW), compares the health of Australians with 36 other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The tool provides a snapshot comparison of life expectancy, health risk factors, mortality rates, and causes of death. Comparing health and health care data between OECD countries supports policy planning and decision making.
Available online, the interactive tool allows users to see how Australia compares to the OECD average, or a particular OECD country, on various themes including the pharmaceutical market and remuneration of health professionals.
Australians enjoy above average health
The comparison shows that while Australia has the third highest rates of overweight and obese men, and the second highest incidence of cancer, life expectancy at birth is above average and 6th highest among OECD countries. Australia has a lower rate of infant mortality than the OECD average with 3.1 deaths per 1000 live births. Maternal mortality is also lower than the OECD average.
In terms of risk factors, while consumption of alcohol in Australia is higher than the OECD average, only 12.4 percent of the population are daily smokers compared with the OECD average of 18.4 percent. Australia was also below the OECD average for the rate of injuries resulting from road traffic accidents.
In Australia the proportion of nurses and personal carers working in long-term care for persons age 65 and over is above OECD average. When it comes to remuneration of nurses working in hospitals, Australia ranks 5th highest for salary among 31 countries. Australia’s comprehensive health care system means that the country ranks equal first for government / social health insurance. Australia also has higher than OECD average private health insurance. Data relating to Australia’s healthcare system shows that waiting times for most elective surgery procedures are below OECD average.
Overall, Australia performs relatively well across most indicators and the majority of the Australian population, 82.5 percent, perceive their health to be good or very good. On average Australians each take 7.3 sick days off work per year, below the OECD average of 8.3 days. The AIHW also acknowledges that undesirable high rates of cancer, the most common disease group for causes of death among Australians, may be due to the completeness and high quality of data available.