Page 827 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2023

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The first two focused topics, the burden of disease and healthy weight, are now available on the ACT Health website. For those familiar with previous CHO reports, the focus topics will be similar to the previously developed “focus on” reports, but are web-based, allowing them to be updated as new data becomes available. The Chief Health Officer plans to release focus topics in an ongoing, rolling fashion and to continue to update the new topics online.

The data tells us that, overall, there is much to be proud of in our collaborative and sustained efforts to create a healthy Canberra. In 2021 more than half of ACT adult respondents to the ACT general health survey, almost 53 per cent, reported their health as excellent or very good, while 46.9 per cent of adult respondents reported their mental health as excellent or very good.

People in the ACT have the longest life expectancies at birth in Australia, and Australians have the third highest life expectancies in the world. In 2018 to 2020 life expectancy in the ACT was 85.9 years for females and 82.1 years for males. The ACT has the highest immunisation rates in Australia, protecting its children from a range of infectious diseases. This has contributed to the ACT having the longest life expectancies in Australia.

However, the burden of disease still affects many in our population, and the health-adjusted life expectancy indicates the average length of time a person can expect to live in full health without the impacts of disease and injury. In 2018 males born in the ACT could expect, on average, to live 71.9 of their 81.2 years in full health, while females could expect to live 74.2 of their 85.3 years in full health, indicating that the burden of disease has a significant impact on the population.

The ACT government’s efforts to prevent chronic disease aim to increase the length of time that people can live in full health without the impacts of disease or injury. Having healthy weight increases a person’s chances of living in good health. The 2021 ACT general health survey revealed that the rates of overweight and obesity in the ACT have remained stable, compared to previous years.

The ACT government has long been focused on preventing overweight and obesity in children through targeted action and support for the community. This is essential to ensuring that individuals have the best chance of living in good health and to reducing preventable chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. The findings in these focus topics will provide evidence to inform relevant programs and initiatives, as outlined in the Healthy Canberra: ACT Preventive Health Plan 2020-2025.

The ACT government is committed to improving the health outcomes of all Canberrans. This means addressing social determinants of health and continuing to work together in partnership. To achieve this, a comprehensive and sustained approach is required which involves collaboration across the health sector, government, academics, industry, community organisations and individuals. The population health reporting on these focus topics will provide a valuable resource for those working in public health policy, health services planning and delivery, and population health research.

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