Inequality is biggest test say health chiefs
A Government agency has responded to a special Express & Star report on the region’s health by stating ‘reducing health inequalities is one of the biggest challenges we face in public health’.
The study by this newspaper showed health indicators for each district across the Black Country and Staffordshire, revealing the extent of health inequality across our patch.
Its life expectancy ranged for men from 80 in Stafford to to 77 in Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Walsall.
While for women it ranged from 83 in Wyre Forest, Stafford, Cannock Chase and Dudley to 81 in Wolverhampton and Sandwell.
The study showed clear links between deprivation and poor health with areas where children grew up in low-income families more likely to be obese and have diabetes.
Speaking today, Cam Morgan, spokesman from Public Health England’s health and wellbeing team, said: “Addressing health inequalities cuts across almost all that we do as a public health agency in the West Midlands.
“Health is affected by gender and behavioural risk factors and underpinned by the social determinants of health – where people live with poorer individuals experiencing worse health outcomes than people who are better off; housing; jobs and worklessness.
“Reducing health inequalities is one the biggest challenges we face in public health.”
She added: “The scope of health inequalities is vast, and work to reduce them is coming from right across the health sector from colleagues in public health, the NHS and local government.”
The agency has published a guide called Reducing Health Inequalities; system, scale and sustainability.
It sets actions for regional health groups to combat health inequality.
This includes protecting and creating leisure centres and parks. Health champions should be created to lead initiatives and support should be provided for healthy living.
A spokesman said: “Health inequality is a challenging and complex area—deeply rooted, difficult to turn around and driven by a variety of factors.
“Progress is being made—cancer survival rates are at a record high and smoking rates are at an all-time low, but we know there is still too much variation.
“To help we are investing more than £16 billion in local government public health services over the current spending period, as well as introducing world-leading plans to tackle childhood obesity, diabetes and smoking.”