THE Wimmera has some of the lowest rates of daily exercise and highest rates of cancer-related deaths.
New Australian health data shows that between 2010 and 2014 Northern Grampians Shire had the highest rate of death from breast cancer and Hindmarsh Shire had the highest rate of death from bowel cancer in the state.
Ararat Rural City and West Wimmera Shire had some of the highest rates of deaths from cardiovascular diseases.
Buloke and West Wimmera shires had high rates of lung cancer deaths.
The Wimmera also had one of the highest rates of people who did little to no exercise each week.
Rural Northwest Health chief executive Catherine Morley said distance and support for the biggest issues facing regional health.
“The distance we have from services is a problem,” she said.
“We do have experts who come and visit us in the region, but there is still a real issue with getting a suite of doctors – we are never able to get a stable team of professionals.”
Ms Morley said health literacy was also a problem.
“If people are overweight, we give them a tablet instead of finding ways for them to increase their exercise,” she said.
“If you want to be 88 years old, still living at home and having a good life, then you need to make health changes now.”
Ms Morley said the region needed more support.
“I don’t think the government understands the complex health issues we have,” she said.
“People don’t get the quality of service that they would in Melbourne.
“Horsham have a great stroke program, but if you are in Hopetoun and have to wait for an ambulance to come from Ouyen and take you to Horsham, you aren’t going to get there in time to get the best treatment.
“There are time constraints that cannot be met.”