Illness is on the rise among the Australian population for the first time in two decades, a government report published on Tuesday revealed.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) published the latest edition of its burden of disease study, finding Australians lost an estimated 5.5 million years of healthy life to ill health in 2022, reports Xinhua news agency.
It marks a 2 per cent increase compared to the 2018 study and the first time since monitoring started in 2003 that the burden of sickness and disease has risen.
However, the study found Australians were overall healthier in 2022 than in 2003.
“Fewer Australians are dying prematurely than 19 years ago, but we are still living with similar amounts of ill health,” AIHW spokesperson Richard Juckes said in a statement.
Cancers were the most burdensome illness in 2022 followed by musculoskeletal conditions, cardiovascular diseases, mental and substance use disorders and neurological conditions.
Of specific diseases, dementia was the second leading cause of total burden, up from 12th in 2003.
The fatal burden of cardiovascular diseases fell by 50 per cent between 2003 and 2022 and by 26 per cent for cancers.
The analysis was the first burden report to include Covif-19.
It found that the coronavirus accounted for 2.7 pe rcent of the total health burden in Australia, ranking it eighth among specific illnesses.
Steve Robson, president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), said the data shows people are living longer with chronic conditions, increasing pressure on the health system.
“One of the startling figures to come out of this report is the fact that anxiety disorders are now in the top five diseases creating a burden on the health system,” he told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
“We need investment in preventative care across the board, particularly in mental health if we are to prevent more and more patients unnecessarily ending up in hospitals.”