The Australian Health Ministers declared asthma as the sixth National Health Priority Area in 1999. A positive outcome of that initiative was the establishment of the Australian System for Monitoring Asthma. The system has enabled placement in the public domain of a range of reliable, up-to-date and useful information about asthma, including this report.
The first baseline Asthma in Australia report, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2003, was the most authoritative national report of its kind. It not only presented the most recent statistics available; it also pointed to the strengths and weaknesses of our existing asthma programs, while highlighting potentially fruitful areas of intervention.
The challenge in 2005 was not only to update the vast amount of information contained in the preceding report, but also to make new information and statistics available with a considered perspective of the underlying trends in Australia.
In that vein, the headline numbers in this second report not only indicate a degree of stability in the prevalence of asthma in Australia, but also a continuing decline in mortality. This is undoubtedly good news, but areas of continuing concern remain. In particular, there is evidence that inhaled corticosteroids, which have the potential to do much good for people with asthma, are not well targeted. In particular, many people with asthma who would benefit from using inhaled corticosteroids are not using them and some people are using them at higher doses than is necessary. For more information you will of course have to read the report.
Asthma in Australia 2005 was prepared by the Australian Centre for Asthma Monitoring, a collaborating unit of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare based at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Sydney. The authors have accessed a wide range of administrative and research data collections held by federal and state and territory agencies, as well as other published data. In the process, several difficult asthma-related data issues, some highly controversial, have been addressed.
The preparation of the report was overseen by a management committee headed by Professor Peter Gibson of the University of Newcastle. The input of committee members in the preparation of the report is gratefully acknowledged.
We also acknowledge the support of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing for funding the Australian System for Monitoring Asthma, which includes the preparation and production of this report.
Dr Richard Madden
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
© Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2005