Health status is a holistic concept that is determined by more than the presence or absence of any disease. It is often summarised by life expectancy or self-assessed health status, and more broadly includes measures of functioning, physical illness, and mental wellbeing. Epidemiology is the study of disease in groups or populations through the collection of data and information, to identify patterns and causes. The measures of epidemiology are: Mortality- refers to the number of deaths in a given population from a particular cause and/or over a period of time.
Infant Mortality- refers to the number of infant deaths in the first year of life, per 1,000 live births. Morbidity- is the incidence or level of illness, disease or injury in a given population.
Life Expectancy – is the length of time a person can expect to live. More specifically, it refers to the average number of years of life remaining to a person at a particular age, based on current death rates.
In Australia, the median age of death among the entire population in 2007 was 80.5 years old. In 2011 that statistic had risen to 81.5 years old, an increase of one year to the average life. In both years the leading cause of death among Australians was circulatory diseases (diseases of the heart and blood vessels) and the second leading cause in both years was cancer. Although the percentage of cancer deaths rose from 29.2% proportion of totals deaths to 29.8% and the percentage of circulatory disease deaths dropped from 33.
8% of the populations deaths down to 31%.
In the past 100 years the infant mortality rate as decreased by 95%, from more than one in ten deaths in the first year of life (100+ deaths per 1000 live births) to one in 200 deaths in the first year of life (5 deaths per 100 live births). This can be attributed to improved health education, public sanitation, improved medical diagnosis and improved support services for parents and new born babies. Most infant mortalities are caused by congenital malformations which are structural or functional anomalies which are present at the birth of a child, preventative causes of this disease are improving the diet of women through their reproductive years, avoiding exposure to harsh environmental substances and improving vaccinations and health education.
Information about the incidence and prevalence of the total population gives a broader perspective on the nation’s health than just the mortality statistics. Australia’s population has a lowering incidence of asthma and rising survival rate of cancer although since 1984 the incidence of five major cancers has risen (Breast, Prostrate, Melanoma, Colorectal and Lung) and a report from SMH in 2008 shows 7.4 million people are overweight or obese and the prevalence of diabetes climbs rapidly, along with these problems the amount of people affected by STI’s has risen to more than 230 per 100,000 people. According to AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) Australia is one of the healthiest nations in the world although Indigenous Australians lag behind in their health status.
Australians live the second longest lives in world, behind Japan. The average Australian citizen will live to be 81.4 years old. And trends indicate that the expectancy of males and females is growing, since 2000 the life expectancy of males has grown from 77.4 years old to 79.7 years old, an increase of 2.3 years. The life expectancy of females since 2000 has grown from 82.6 up to 84.2, an increase of 1.6 years. This increase in the life expectancy of Australian residents indicates that their health is improving, with the help of increased knowledge and improved health services.
Taking all of this information into account, using measures of epidemiology, the health status of Australians can be said to be relatively good compared with that of other nations. The improved health services and new discoveries in the health sector along with increased knowledge about health from the population also indicates that the health status of Australians may be improving.
The Ottawa Charter for health promotion promotes social justice as it incorporates the idea of giving all members of the community access to health services and attempts to rule out inequities in differing communities. The Ottawa Charter does this through its five action areas: Building Healthy Public Policy, Create Supportive Environments, Strengthen Community Action, Develop Personal Skills and Reorient Health Services. All five of these action areas provide a building block for health promotions. The four principles of social justice are: Equity, Access, Participation and Rights. The way equity is reflected in health promotion based on the Ottawa Charter is through the action areas Building Healthy Public Policy, Create Supportive Environments and Reorient Health Services as these three areas bring together people onto an equal level and give specific help to those who need it, creating equity in communities. Access is reflected in health promotion based on the Ottawa Charter through the action area Reorient Health Services, as this area of the charter aims to bring together health services, governing bodies and other health professionals in an attempt to give more adequate access to health services to those who need it.
Also reflected is Participation, which can be based on the Ottawa Charter action areas through Building Healthy Public Policy, Strengthen Community Action and Develop Personal Skills. This can be known as empowering the communities and bringing the communities the education and information needed to know more about their own health. Lastly, Rights is reflected in health promotion through the action areas Create Supportive Environments and Reorient Health Services as they attempt to give equitable opportunities for good health to all individuals.
With these four social justice principles reflected in health promotion, the overall health of Australia can be improved, examples of this include: ‘Quit for you – Quit for two’ which promotes to pregnant women who smoke, who if they ceased their habit would be creating a more equal life for their expectant child and give them the right for an opportunity to good health. Another example would be the ‘Swap it’ campaign which aims at developing personal skills while creating equity through smart food choices. 3. Critically analyse how the action areas of the Ottawa Charter address Australia’s health priorities through ONE health promotion initiative.
“Slip Slop Slap Seek Slide” Campaign by the Cancer Council of Australia was created in 1980 and revolved around Sid the Seagull who gave a constant reminder of the easy ways that the population of Australia would be able to avoid skin cancer; slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. 27 year later the ad was upgraded to include; seek shade and slide on sunnies, thus creating the “Slip Slop Slap Seek Slide” song.
The campaign aims to lower the prevalence and incidence of skin cancers in Australia. The action areas of the Ottawa Charter address Australia’s health priorities through this campaign. The action areas are: Building Healthy Public Policy, Create Supportive Environments, Strengthen Community Action, Develop Personal Skills and Reorient Health Services. Building Healthy Public Policy – Policies have been created due to increased awareness attributed to the “Slip Slop Slap Seek Slide” campaign; a commonly known policy would be the “No Hat, No Play” policy used in schools. This is used by teachers to protect children from skin cancer risks in the playground. Advantages of this would be that children will be increasingly protected and parents are given peace of mind, and no noticeable disadvantages are created by this policy.
Create Supportive Environments – A noticeable environment change caused by the increased awareness of skin cancers would the addition of shaded areas to many public places. This creates an environment for the public population that is protected from harmful Ultraviolet sun rays. An advantage of this are that people can be outside but protected from skin cancer risks while a disadvantage would be that most of these shaded areas come at the expense of nature, eg- destruction of trees and/or other natural features. Strengthen Community Action- Two initiatives related to the ‘Slip Slop Slap” would be the introduction of Cancer Centres to many rural areas and the Relay for Life, which is about raising funds for the Cancer Council.
These two initiatives can create awareness of skin cancer, while the former can save lives. Only advantages are created by these two initiatives, which are; increased knowledge, funds gained for research and practical use, the ability to detect cancers and save lives.
Develop Personal Skills – The campaign of “Slip Slop Slap Seek Slide” uses a jingle to educate the Australian population. The TV ad itself is an educational video, which creates awareness of skin cancers in Australia.
This leads to increased knowledge of how to protect yourself and others from skin cancers. An advantage of this is that the Australian public is being educated in their own home by the TV, although a disadvantage is that they do not know that they are being directly educated. Reorient Health Services- A health service which has become operational due to increased awareness of skin cancers is the Skin Cancer Bondi checks, where on the beach at Bondi you can have a skin cancer check. This leads to a safer beach, as beachgoers can be precautious and have a skin cancer check. Advantages of this are that the population can be on the beach and get their skin checked at the same time as well as not have to book into a skin cancer centre for the check. A disadvantage may be that the check may not be a thorough as one performed in a more professional environment. Overall, the introduction of the “Slip Slop Slap” campaign and the readjustment to “Slip Slop Slap Seek Slide” campaign has increased the awareness and knowledge of skin cancers in Australia. The action areas of the Ottawa Charter are relevant to the campaign and Australia’s health priorities.