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Public health spending is 2 pct of the total spent on health

28 February, 2008

National expenditure on public health activities has remained constant at about 1.8% of total health spending over the last 7 years, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, National public health expenditure report 2005-06, shows that Australian health departments spent approximately $1.5 billion or $71 per person on public health activities in 2005-06.

John Goss, Head of the Expenditure and Economics Unit, said, 'The highest expenditure in 2005-06 was on Organised immunisation ($321 million or 22%), followed by Selected health promotion ($252 million or 17%) and Communicable disease control ($248 million or 17%).

'From 1999-00 to 2005-06, taking inflation into account, growth in expenditure on public health activities was in line with growth in overall health spending with an average increase of 4.5% per year,' he said.

The public health activities with the highest average annual growth rates were Organised immunisation (9.5%), Public health research (7.4%) and Communicable disease control (4.8%).

Between 2004-05 and 2005-06 the amount spent on public health fell by 2.3% after taking inflation into account.

'This decline is mainly attributable to reductions in expenditure on Organised immunisation (down 9.1%) and Prevention of hazardous and harmful drug use (down 12.8%),' Goss said.

'The reduction in spending on Organised immunisation in 2005-06 reflects the typical trend in immunisation expenditure in years following the introduction of new vaccines. In 2004-05 there was a significant jump of 21.7% to fund the introduction of two new pneumococcal vaccination programs,' he said.

The main reason for the decline in 2005-06 on spending for Prevention of hazardous and harmful drug use was the fulfilment the previous year of a four-year Australian Government grant given to establish the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation.

The Australian Government provided $797 million or 54.3% of the funding for public health activities in 2005-06. Of this, $439 million was funding for its own programs and $357 million was provided to state and territory governments through specific purpose payments to fund activities for which the states and territories were responsible.

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