Two-thirds of First Nations premature deaths ‘avoidable’

2 minute read

Heart disease, chronic kidney disease and COPD accounted for three out of five leading causes of avoidable deaths among First Nations people.

Close to two out of three premature deaths among First Nations people in 2018 could have been avoided given timely and effective healthcare, according to the AIHW.

Latest data from the 2018 Australian Burden of Disease Study found that 64% of premature deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander were avoidable, compared to 54% among non-Indigenous Australians.

Five causes accounted for more than half of avoidable premature deaths among First Nations people: coronary heart disease, suicide and self-inflicted injuries, poisoning, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease.

Among First Nations people aged 15-34 years, four out of five of the top causes of avoidable premature death were injuries, while chronic diseases were the leading causes for those aged 55 or older.

Leading causes of avoidable death also differed between First Nations men and women, with injuries leading rates of avoidable premature death in for men while chronic disease was the predominant cause in women.

Across all 37 Indigenous regions – large geographical units included in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard – the highest rates of avoidable fatal burden were observed in regions contained in the Northern Territory, followed by Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia.

First Nations men experienced higher rates of avoidable premature death than women, accounting for between 51% to 69% of avoidable fatal burden across all Indigenous regions.

Coronary heart disease was among the top three leading causes of avoidable fatal burden in 36 out of 37 regions, while suicide and self-inflicted injury was a leading cause of death in 31 regions.

More detailed data on avoidable fatal burden among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is available here.

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