Department of Health Annual Report 2015-16


Page last updated: 17 July 2019

Acute care Short-term medical treatment, usually in a hospital, for patients with an acute illness or injury, or recovering from surgery. Acute illness/injury is one that is severe in its effect or approaching crisis point, for example acute appendicitis.
Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus Mosquito species that may be carriers (vectors) of dengue, yellow fever, Zika and chikungunya. In Australia, Aedes aegypti is only found in parts of northern, central and southwest Queensland and Aedes albopictus is only found in the Torres Strait.
Allied health practitioners/providers For the purpose of this report, allied health practitioners/providers are those registered under the National Registration Accreditation Scheme. These professions include: Psychologists, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Optometrists, Chiropractors, Podiatrists, Osteopaths, Medical radiation practitioners, Dental professionals, Occupational therapists, Chinese medicine practitioners, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) The ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses and parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it.
Blood Borne Viruses (BBV) Viruses that are transmitted through contact between infected blood and uninfected blood (e.g. hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV).
Cervical cancer A cancer of the cervix, often caused by human papillomavirus, which is a sexually transmissible infection.
Chemotherapy The treatment of disease by chemical agents, for example the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells.
Chikungunya virus An alphavirus which is transmitted between people through the bite of an infected Aedes albopictus or Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Chronic disease The term applied to a diverse group of diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis, that tend to be long-lasting and persistent in their symptoms or development. Although these features also apply to some communicable diseases (infections), the general term chronic diseases is usually confined to non-communicable diseases.
Closing the Gap COAG Closing the Gap initiatives designed to close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Communicable disease An infectious disease transmissible (as from person to person) by direct contact with an affected individual or the individual’s discharges or by indirect means. Communicable (infectious) diseases include sexually transmitted diseases; vector-borne diseases; vaccine preventable diseases and antimicrobial resistant bacteria.
Dengue virus A flavivirus, which is transmitted between people through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito.
Diabetes Refers to a group of syndromes caused by a malfunction in the production and release of insulin by the pancreas leading to a disturbance in blood glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes is characterised by the abrupt onset of symptoms, usually during childhood, and inadequate production of insulin requiring regular injections to regulate insulin levels. Type 2 diabetes is characterised by gradual onset commonly over the age of 45 years, but increasingly occurring in younger age groups, and is usually able to be regulated through dietary control.
Ebola Virus Disease Ebola virus disease, formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average Ebola case fatality rate is around 50 per cent.
eHealth Application of internet and other related technologies in the health care industry to improve the access, efficiency, effectiveness and quality of clinical and business processes utilised by health care organisations, practitioners, patients and consumers to improve the health status of patients.
Elective surgery Elective care in which the procedures required by patients are listed in the surgical operations section of the Medicare Benefits Schedule, with the exclusion of specific procedures frequently done by non-surgical clinicians.
Epidemic An outbreak of a disease or its occurrence at a level that is clearly higher than usual, especially if it affects a large proportion of the population.
Epidermolysis Bullosa A rare inherited skin disorder which causes blistering.
Financial year The 12 month period from 1 July to 30 June.
Front-of-pack labelling Single, interpretive five star rating front-of-pack labelling system for use on packaged foods sold in Australia indicating nutritional content and kilojoules.
General Practitioner (GP) A medical practitioner who provides primary care to patients within the community.
Gene technology Gene technology involves techniques for understanding the expression of genes and taking advantage of natural genetic variation for the modification of genetic material. It does not include sexual reproduction or DNA crossover.
Haemopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) Blood cells found in bone marrow, peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood that are capable of self-renewal into all blood cell types.
Health care Services provided to individuals or communities to promote, maintain, monitor or restore health. Health care is not limited to medical care and includes self-care.
Health outcome A change in the health of an individual or population due wholly or partly to a preventive or clinical intervention. See Outcomes.
Hepatitis A (infectious hepatitis) An acute but benign form of viral hepatitis transmitted by ingesting food or drink that is contaminated with faecal matter.
Hepatitis B (serum hepatitis) An acute (sometimes fatal) form of viral hepatitis transmitted by sexual contact, by transfusion or by ingestion of contaminated blood or other bodily fluids.
Hepatitis C A blood borne viral disease that can result in serious liver disease such as cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Hepatitis C is usually transmitted by parenteral means (as injection of an illicit drug or blood transfusion or exposure to blood or blood products).
Human papillomavirus (HPV) The virus that causes genital warts and which is linked in some cases to the development of more serious cervical cell abnormalities.
Illicit drugs The term ‘illicit drug’ can encompass a number of broad concepts including:
  • illegal drugs – a drug that is prohibited from manufacture, sale or possession in Australia – for example, cannabis, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy;
  • misuse or extra-medical use of pharmaceuticals – drugs that are available from a pharmacy, over-the-counter or by prescription, which may be subject to misuse – for example, opioid-based pain relief medications, opioid substitution therapies, benzodiazepines, over-the-counter codeine and steroids; and
  • other psychoactive substances – legal or illegal, potentially used in a harmful way – for example, kava, or inhalants such as petrol, paint or glue.
Immunisation Inducing immunity against infection by the use of an antigen to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies. See vaccination.
Incidence The number of new cases (of an illness or event, and so on) occurring during a given period. Compare with prevalence.
Influenza (flu) An acute contagious viral respiratory infection marked by fevers, muscle aches, headache, cough and sore throat.
Intern A doctor in their first postgraduate year and who holds provisional registration with the Medical Board of Australia.
Jurisdictions In the Commonwealth of Australia, these include the Commonwealth Government, the six States, and the two Territories.
Measles A highly contagious infection, usually of children, that causes flu-like symptoms, fever, a typical rash and sometimes serious secondary problems such as brain damage. Preventable by vaccine.
Medical indemnity insurance A form of professional indemnity cover that provides surety to medical practitioners and their patients in the event of an adverse outcome arising from medical negligence.
Medicare A national, Government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of personal medical services for all Australians and aims to help them afford medical care. The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) is the listing of the Medicare services subsidised by the Australian Government. The schedule is part of the wider Medicare Benefits Scheme (Medicare).
Memorandum of Understanding A written but non-contractual agreement between two or more entities or other parties to take a certain course of action.
Meningococcal disease The inflammation of meninges of the brain and the spinal cord caused by meningococcal bacteria which invade the body through the respiratory tract. The infection develops quickly and is often characterised by fever, vomiting, an intense headache, stiff neck and septicemia (an infection in the bloodstream).
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS‑CoV) MERS coronavirus is a disease caused by a new virus that can cause a rapid onset of severe respiratory disease in people. Most severe cases have occurred in people with underlying conditions that may make them more likely to get respiratory infections. All cases have lived in or travelled to the Middle East, or have had close contact with people who acquired the infection in the Middle East. There have been no cases in Australia.
Morbidity Refers to ill health in an individual and to levels of ill health in a population or group.
Mortality Death.
Mumps An acute, inflammatory, contagious disease caused by a paramyxovirus and characterised by swelling of the salivary glands, especially the parotids, and sometimes of the pancreas, ovaries, or testes. This disease mainly affects children and can be prevented by vaccination.
Non-communicable diseases Non-communicable diseases, also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person. They are of long duration and generally slow progression. The 4 main types of non-communicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases (for example heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.
Oncology The study, knowledge and treatment of cancer and tumours.
Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD) An organisation of 34 countries including Australia, mostly developed and some emerging (such as Mexico, Chile and Turkey). The organisation’s aim is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social wellbeing of people around the world.
Outcomes Outcomes are the Government’s intended results, benefits or consequences for the Australian community. The Government requires entities, such as the Department, to use Outcomes as a basis for budgeting, measuring performance and reporting. Annual administered funding is appropriated on an Outcomes basis. The Department’s current Outcomes are listed on pages 34-35.
Out-of-pocket expenses The total costs incurred by individuals for health care services over and above any refunds from Medicare and private health insurance funds.
Palliative care Care provided to achieve the best possible quality of life for patients with a progressive and far-advanced disease, with little or no prospect of cure.
Pathology The study and diagnosis of disease through the examination of organs, tissues, cells and bodily fluids.
Pertussis (whooping cough) An extremely contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordatella pertussis. The disease causes uncontrolled coughing and vomiting, which can last for several months and can be particularly dangerous for babies under the age of 12 months.
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) A national, Government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of a wide range of pharmaceutical drugs for all Australians to help them afford standard medications. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule lists all the medicinal products available under the PBS and explains the uses for which they can be subsidised.
Plain packaging The Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 requires all tobacco products manufactured or packaged in Australia for domestic consumption from 1 October 2012 to be in plain packaging, and all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging by 1 December 2012.
Population health Typically described as the organised response by society to protect and promote health, and to prevent illness, injury and disability. Population health activities generally focus on: prevention, promotion and protection rather than on treatment; populations rather than on individuals; and the factors and behaviours that cause illness. In this sense, often used synonymously with public health. Can also refer to the health of particular subpopulations, and comparisons of the health of different populations.
Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements Statements prepared by portfolios to explain the Additional Estimates Budget appropriations in terms of outcomes and programs.
Portfolio Budget Statements Statements prepared by portfolios to explain the Budget appropriations in terms of outcomes and programs.
Prevalence The number or proportion (of cases, instances, and so forth) in a population at a given time. In relation to cancer, this refers to the number of people alive who had been diagnosed with cancer in a prescribed period (usually 1-, 5-, 10- or 26-years). Compare with incidence.
Primary care Provides the patient with a broad spectrum of care, both preventive and curative, over a period of time and coordinates all of the care the person receives.
Program/Programme A specific strategy, initiative or grouping of activities directed toward the achievement of Government policy or a common strategic objective. In 2015-16, the Department had 31 specific programs (see pages 34-35).
Prostheses List Under the Private Health Insurance Act 2007, private health insurers are required to pay benefits for a range of prostheses that are provided as part of an episode of hospital treatment or hospital substitute treatment for which a patient has cover and for which a Medicare benefit is payable for the associated professional service. The types of products on the Prostheses List include cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators, cardiac stents, joint replacements and intraocular lenses, as well as human tissues such as human heart valves. The list does not include external limbs, external breast prostheses, wigs and other such devices. The Prostheses List contains prostheses and human tissue prostheses and the benefit to be paid by the private health insurers. The Prostheses List is published bi-annually.
Prosthesis An artificial device that replaces a missing body part lost through trauma, disease, or congenital conditions.
Public health Activities aimed at benefiting a population, with an emphasis on prevention, protection and health promotion as distinct from treatment tailored to individuals with symptoms. Examples include conduct of anti-smoking education campaigns, and screening for diseases such as cancer of the breast or cervix. See also Population health.
Quality use of medicines Quality use of medicines means:
  • selecting management options wisely;
  • choosing suitable medicines if a medicine is considered necessary; and
  • using medicines safely and effectively.
This definition applies equally to decisions about medicine use by individuals and decisions that affect the health of the population.
Radiation oncology (radiotherapy) The study and discipline of treating malignant disease with radiation. The treatment is referred to as radiotherapy or radiation therapy.
Registrar Any person undertaking medical vocational training in a recognised medical specialty training program accredited by the Australian Medical Council.
Sexually transmissible infection (STI) An infectious disease that can be passed to another person by sexual contact. Notable examples include chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Stoma Artificial body opening in the abdominal region, for the purpose of waste removal.
Tuberculosis Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that damages people’s lungs or other parts of the body and can cause serious illness and death. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is spread through the air when a person with the active disease coughs, sneezes or speaks, and other people nearby breathe in the bacteria.
Vaccination The process of administering a vaccine to a person to produce immunity against infection. See immunisation.
Varicella (Chicken pox) A very contagious disease. An affected child or adult may develop hundreds of itchy, fluid-filled blisters that burst and form crusts. Varicella is caused by a virus, varicella-zoster.
World Health Organization (WHO) The World Health Organization is a specialised agency of the United Nations. Its primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the United Nations’ system. The WHO has 194 member states including Australia.
Zika virus A flavivirus, closely related to dengue. It is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of certain infected Aedes species mosquitoes.

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