Prevalence of Chronic Disease in CALD Communities

We have appreciated the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for its recent initiatives to improve our understanding of the health inequities experienced by many of our culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians.

The AIHS recently released an interactive report, ‘Chronic health conditions among culturally and linguistically diverse Australians 2021’. 

Some significant findings of the report include: 

  • On average, migrants to Australia have a lower prevalence of long-term health conditions, which is sometimes referred to as the “healthy migrant effect.’’ 
  • This effect appears to diminish. Time since arrival in Australia and level of English language proficiency were clearly linked to the prevalence of long-term conditions such as arthritis, asthma, mental health, and lung conditions. 
  • For people who arrived in Australia more than ten years before the 2021 Census, the prevalence of one or more long-term health conditions was higher for people with low English proficiency (33%) than for people with high proficiency (23%). 
  • This report supports the view of the AMHC that Government investment in multicultural health and social care services and programs is urgently required to preserve the relatively good health of arriving migrants, and to redress the many health inequities that were highlighted by COVID-19.

The report was derived from an analysis of the 2021 Census which, for the first time, included questions relating to common chronic diseases.

In our media release, the Collaborative Co-Chairs suggested:

  • It would be useful to conduct further analysis of how the social determinants of health (such as socioeconomic status, housing, education, and employment) also contribute to poorer health outcomes. This would also help us address health inequities.
  • Low English language proficiency, along with racism, should be considered as an additional determinant of health.
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