Can we please have one of these for Australia?
As in an interactive map that discloses the health status of different regions of Australia. And not only that – their relative health status.
It seems quite odd that we would even be thinking of our current health reform agenda without having this sort of publicly available data to help guide population health planning.
In England, the Association of Public Health Laboratories has just released their local authority health profiles for 2010, giving a “snapshot overview of health for each local authority and region”.
According to the website blurb: “They are designed to help local government and health services make decisions and plans to improve local people’s health and reduce health inequalities. The profiles present a set of key health indicators that show how the area compares to the national and regional average.”
We learn, for example, that the health of people in Chesterfield in the East Midlands is generally worse than the national average. Deprivation levels are high and life expectancy for men is lower than the average for England. Rates of hospital stays for alcohol related harm and people diagnosed with diabetes are worse than the England average. There are inequalities in Chesterfield by gender, level of deprivation and ethnicity. For example, life expectancy for men living in least deprived areas is 8 years higher than for men living in most deprived areas.
Meanwhile, the health of those in Devon in the south-west is generally better than the country’s average. Life expectancy for both men and women is better than the England average. There are health inequalities within Devon. Life expectancy in men from the most deprived areas is 4 years less than in men from the least deprived areas.
In the South Lakeland in the north-west, people are generally healthier than the national average. Deprivation levels are low and the estimated percentages of obese adults and of adults who smoke, and the rate of violent crime are all better than the England average. Some rates are similar to the England average, including the estimated percentage of binge drinking adults.
There are inequalities within South Lakeland. For example, men and women in the least deprived areas can expect to live over 4 years longer than men and women in the most deprived areas. However, the percentage of mothers initiating breast feeding is worse than the England average.
Interesting, isn’t it?
Don’t know about you, but I’d love to know how the health of those in Cairns compares with those in Perth compares with those in Port Augusta compares with those in Bourke compares with those in Vaucluse, compares with national averages. We so often talk in such generalities – for example, about rural health being worse than metropolitan health. A map like this would really bring it home, and help make health inequalities a much more prominent part of discussions and planning.
It might be very useful for all sorts of things, quite apart from journalistic investigations…
Now, who could make us such a map?
Or maybe someone will reveal me as a complete idiot, and point to one already in existence…