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Australia has worst record of Indigenous health

Australia’s Indigenous population suffers a higher infant mortality rate and a lower life expectancy than those in New Zealand, Canada and the US, a new report has shown.

While Indigenous populations of all four countries compare poorly with the broader population in matters of health, Australia has the worse trends according to the report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

“Significant health disparities exist between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States,” the report says.

“In all four countries indigenous people have lower life expectancies, higher rates of chronic and preventable illness, poorer self-esteem and higher likelihood of hospitalisation.”

Australia rated the worst in terms of Indigenous infant mortality, with 11.5 deaths for every 1,000 live births (according to figures from 2002 to 2004).

That compares with 4.1 deaths per 1,000 live births for Australia’s non-Indigenous population.
Among New Zealand Maori, there were 8.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with 5.0 deaths for the non-Indigenous population (from 2000-2004).

Among Canada’s First Nations peoples there were 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births (in 2000). The comparable rate for all births in Canada is 5.2 per 1,000 live births.

And among American Indians and Alaska Natives the infant mortality rate was 8.7 per 1,000 live births (from 1995 to 2003), compared with 6.8 for the whole of the United States.

Figures cited in the report also show Indigenous Australians die 17 years earlier than those in the broader community.

In New Zealand, the gap is about eight years; in Canada, it’s 10 years, and; in the US, it is under three years.

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