Geography of disease in regional Australia revealed
An analysis of 66,000 private health fund members in Queensland and NSW has revealed different health challenges across eight regions.
PREVALENCE OF DISEASE IN REGIONAL AREAS:
* Townsville had the highest private health claim rate for coronary heart disease, followed by Dubbo, western NSW, and Mackay, Queensland
* Mackay had the highest prevalence of skin cancer, followed by the NSW regions of Wollongong, Lithgow, Dubbo and Bathurst
* Rates of claim for prostate cancer treatment were highest in Mudgee, central west NSW, followed by Mackay and Townsville.
* "Variations are driven by a wide range of factors, including lifestyles, socio-economic status, and environmental factors," the Westfund regional health gap report said
ACCESS TO PRIVATE HEALTH PROVIDERS:
* Mudgee had 14 ancillary service providers per 1000 members, followed by Bathurst at 27, Dubbo 30, Orange 33, Mackay 50, Lithgow 63, Wollongong 212 and Townsville 281
* The analysis found members across regional areas face three main challenges in health care:
- Delayed screening and preventive health checks exacerbated by COVID-19
- Limited access to treatments and key healthcare providers
- Inadequate availability of services and medical equipment