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Day 1: Australia 2012

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The infant mortality rate is expressed as the number of deaths in the first year per 1,000 births in a population. The ABS concluded in 2001 that no reliable Indigenous infant mortality rate national trend (either for better or worse) was identifiable, largely because of the poor quality of data. [52] In jurisdictions where the data is deemed reliable, for the period 2001 to 2005, approximately two to three times the number of Indigenous infants died before their first birthday, as non-Indigenous infants. [53]

5.4 Chronic diseases

Chronic diseases, and in particular cardiovascular disease, are the biggest single killers of Indigenous peoples and an area where the Indigenous and non-Indigenous health equality gap is most apparent.
The rates of death from the five main groups of chronic diseases compared to the non-Indigenous population over 2001-05 is set out in Table 2 as a Standardised Mortality Rate (SMR). The SMR is calculated by dividing recorded Indigenous deaths by expected Indigenous deaths (with the latter based on the age, sex and cause specific rates for non-Indigenous Australians). [54]

Table 2: Indigenous Deaths, main causes, 2001-05 - Standardised Mortality Rate. [55]

Cause of Death

Males SMR

Females SMR

Diseases of the circulatory system



Neoplasms (including cancer)



Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases



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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and (more...)
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