Modern healthcare made deaths caused by infections and contagious diseases rare compared to what people centuries ago faced on a regular basis. However, our modern lifestyles might have caused new problems and challenges to appear.
It’s especially the case with developed societies wherein the diseases of affluence are becoming more common (diabetes, coronary heart disease, depression, anxiety, hypertension, high cholesterol). Whether it’s due to our diet or fast-paced and stressful living, those problems and challenges need to be addressed now.
Health issues facing Australian communities
To address those challenges mentioned, it’s crucial to anticipate the trends that will persist for the coming years and decades. For example, in 2017 at least 15% of the Australian population is aged 65 and over. The number is expected to rise because of our ageing population and ironically, improved healthcare. After all, quality healthcare also means more people surviving and enjoying their senior years. But that also means more people will need advanced healthcare because they’re at most risk to cancers, other diseases and physical injuries.
Once we understand the trend, healthcare facilities and departments could then better plan for capital expenditures to better accommodate the patients. However, forecasting is tricky here because the Australian demographic is dynamic and continuously evolving. We also have to consider new hospitals and healthcare facilities being established before making investments of our own. In other words, preparing for future trends and delivering better healthcare should be a national and coordinated effort.
It’s also important to address health inequality especially about the differences in life expectancy between indigenous people (~70 years) and non-indigenous people (~84 years). This means affluent people receive better health care treatment (and perhaps easier access) than the less affluent. To address that significant difference, it’s crucial to create facilities and provide services more accessible to the indigenous people so that it will be a better healthcare for all.
Aside from ageing population and health inequality, we also have to pay attention to rapid urbanisation that makes communities and societies less liveable. Mental health issues can no longer be ignored especially if we notice that highly developed and urbanised communities have high suicide rates.
There are other health issues and the key to addressing them is looking closely at the numbers and figuring out which needs immediate action and significant funding. It’s beyond prioritising because our objective here is to better understand the current health challenges Australians face.