Go to top of page

Glossary

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)

AIDS occurs as the result of a person’s immune system being severely damaged by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). See Human immunideficiency virus (HIV).

Anorexia nervosa

A psychological illness characterised by low body weight and body image distortion with an obsessive fear of gaining weight.

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.

Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency)

The Agency is responsible for national digital health services and systems, with a focus on engagement, innovation and clinical quality and safety

The Agency focuses on putting data and technology safely to work for patients, consumers and the health care professionals who look after them.

Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC)

AHMAC is the advisory and support body to the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Health Council. It operates to deliver health services more efficiently through a coordinated or joint approach on matters of mutual interest.

Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)

The AHPPC is the key decision‑making committee for health emergencies. It is comprised of all state and territory Chief Health Officers and is chaired by the Australian Chief Medical Officer.

Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT)

Multi‑disciplinary health teams that can rapidly respond to a disaster zone to provide life saving treatment to casualties, in support of the local health response.

Bacillus anthracis (anthrax)

A rare and potentially fatal bacterial disease most commonly occurring in wild and domesticated animals that can infect humans.

Blood borne viruses (BBV)

Viruses that are transmitted through contact between infected blood and uninfected blood (eg. hepatitis B and hepatitis C).

Breast implant associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)

A rare cancer of the immune system. It is not breast cancer, which forms from cells in the breast, but instead a cancer of the body’s disease‑fighting lymphatic system and will usually grow in the fluid and internal scar tissue that develops around a breast implant.

Bulimia nervosa

A psychiatric illness characterised by recurrent binge‑eating episodes, immediately followed by self‑induced vomiting, fasting, over‑exercising and/or the misuse of laxatives, enemas or diuretics.

Cellular immunotherapy

A form of treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.

Cervical cancer

A cancer of the cervix, often caused by human papillomavirus, which is a sexually transmissible infection.

Chronic disease

The term applied to a diverse group of diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis, that tend to be longlasting and persistent in their symptoms or development. Although these features also apply to some communicable diseases (infections), chronic diseases is usually confined to non‑communicable diseases.

Closing the Gap

Council of Australian Governments Closing the Gap initiatives, designed to close the gap in health equality between Indigenous and non‑Indigenous Australians.

Communicable disease

An infectious disease transmissible (as from person to person) by direct contact with an infected individual or the individual’s discharges or by indirect means. Communicable (infectious) diseases include sexually transmitted diseases, vectorborne diseases, vaccine preventable diseases and antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

Coronavirus

Coronaviruses form a large family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses. These include the common cold, as well as more serious diseases like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), and the more recent coronavirus disease 2019. See COVID-19 and Novel coronavirus.

Council of Australian Governments (COAG)

COAG is the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia. The members of COAG are the Prime Minister, state and territory Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease 2019. An illness caused by the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus that was first identified in December 2019. Formerly known as 2019‑nCoV. See Coronavirus and Novel coronavirus.

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. Type 2 diabetes can usually be regulated through dietary control.

Digital Health

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.

Ebola virus

Any of several filoviruses (genus Ebolavirus and especially species Zaire ebolavirus) that cause an often fatal haemorrhagic fever.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)

Refers to a range of problems caused by exposure of a fetus to alcohol during pregnancy.

Financial year

The 12 month period from 1 July to 30 June.

Fragile X syndrome

Inherited conditions caused by alterations of the Fragile X gene, causing a wide range of difficulties with learning, as well as social, language, attentional, emotional, behavioural and medical problems.

G20

G20 is the premier international forum for global economic cooperation. The G20 members account for 85 per cent of the world economy, 75 per cent of global trade and two‑thirds of the world’s population.

General practitioner (GP)

A medical practitioner who provides primary care to patients and their families within the community.

Gene technology

Gene technology is a technique for the modification of genes or other genetic material.

Genetically modified organisms (GMO)

Organisms modified by gene technology.

Haemopoietic progenitor cells (HPC)

Blood cells found in bone marrow, peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood that are capable of self‑renewal into all blood cell types.

Head to Health

Provides help to find digital mental health services from some of Australia’s most trusted mental health organisations.

Provided by the Department, Head to Health brings together apps, online programs, online forums and phone services, as well as a range of digital information resources.

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 selfcare.

Health outcome

A change in the health of an individual or population due wholly or partly to a preventive or clinical intervention.

Hepatitis B

A viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. It is most commonly transmitted from mother to child during delivery as well as through contact with 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 immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

A virus that damages the body’s immune system. The late stage of HIV is called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). See Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

A virus that causes genital warts which is linked in some cases to the development of more serious cervical cell abnormalities.

Immunisation

Inducing immunity against infection by the use of an antigen to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies. See vaccination.

Immunoglobulin

A protein extracted from blood, sometimes called an antibody, which fights infection. An injection of immunoglobulins provide temporary immunity against certain infections (also known as passive immunisation).

Incidence

The number of new cases (of an illness or event, and so on) occurring during a given period. Compare with prevalence.

Jurisdictions

In the Commonwealth of Australia, these include the six states, the Commonwealth Government and the two territories.

Legionellosis

A collective term for diseases caused by Legionella bacteria, including the most serious, Legionnaires’ disease, as well as the less serious condition of Pontiac fever.

Measles

A highly contagious infection, usually in children, that causes flu‑like symptoms, fever, a typical rash and sometimes serious secondary problems such as brain damage. Preventable by vaccine.

Indemnity insurance

A form of professional indemnity cover that provides surety to medical practitioners, midwives and their patients in the event of an adverse outcome arising from medical negligence.

Influenza (flu)

Caused by the influenza virus, which is easily spread from person to person and is not the same as the common cold. The flu is a serious disease as it can lead to bronchitis, croup, pneumonia, ear infections, heart and other organ damage, brain inflammation and brain damage, and death.

Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)

The MRFF delivers better and more advanced health care and medical technology for Australians. It provides support to researches to discover the next penicillin, pacemaker, cervical cancer vaccine or cochlear ear.

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 MBS (Medicare).

My Health Record

An online summary of a person’s key health information that can be viewed securely online, from anywhere, at any time.

A person’s health information can be securely accessed from any computer or device that is connected to the internet.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

Australia’s national scheme providing individualised packages of support to eligible people with disability.

Novel Coronavirus

A novel (new) coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans or animals. See Coronavirus and COVID-19.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

An organisation of 35 countries (mostly developed and some emerging, such as Mexico, Chile and Turkey), including Australia. The OECD’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.

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.

Pandemic

An outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population.

Pathology

The study and diagnosis of disease through the examination of organs, tissues, cells and bodily fluids.

Per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances

A group of manufactured chemicals used in a range of common household products and specialty applications, including in the manufacture of non‑stick cookware; fabric, furniture and carpet stain protection applications; food packaging; some industrial processes; and in some types of fire‑fighting foam.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC)

PBAC is an independent expert body appointed by the Australian Government. Members include doctors, health professionals, health economists and consumer representatives.

Its primary role is to recommend new medicines for listing on the PBS. No new medicine can be listed unless the committee makes a positive recommendation.

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 PBS lists all the medicinal products available under the PBS and explains the uses for which they can be subsidised.

Polio

Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the poliovirus. Polio is spread mainly through contact with infected faeces, leading to gastrointestinal infection.

Portfolio Budget Statements (PB 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, prevalence 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.

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 legs, 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.

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 anti‑smoking education campaigns and screening for diseases such as cancer of the breast or cervix.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension

A type of high blood pressure affecting the arteries that supply blood to the lungs, in which the arteries become narrow or stiff.

Sexually transmissible infection (STI)

An infectious disease that can be passed to another person by sexual contact. Notable examples include chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

Silicosis

A preventable lung disease resulting from inhalation of very fine silica dust.

Telehealth

Use of telecommunication techniques for the purpose of providing telemedicine, medical education, and health education over a distance.

Tuberculosis

An infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, that damages people’s lungs or other parts of the body.

Vaccination

The process of administering a vaccine to a person to produce immunity against infection. See immunisation.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

An international independent agency composed and funded equally by the sport movement and governments of the world.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO is a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN). Its primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the UN system. The WHO has 194 member states, including Australia.