Public health officials in the borough are concerned about the seven-year difference in life expectancy between our most and least deprived areas, and the worry is that being without work just makes matters worse.
Dr Kate Ardern, Executive Director of Public Health, has gone on the record about the links between recession and health.
She said: “We are making real progress in improving life expectancy in the borough with female life expectancy now expected to achieve the England average by the end of 2010, but male life expectancy, whilst improving, is still 9-10% off the target of reaching the England average by the end of 2010.”
The most significant reason for this is that men are less likely to take up the offer of effective preventative health services, which reduce their risks of dying prematurely before the age of 75 from heart disease and stroke.
The stresses resulting from economic recession, such as job loss or insecurity and loss of self-esteem leading to pressures on finances, can increase the likelihood of people taking risks with their health by smoking more, drinking more alcohol and eating unhealthy food, which will increase the existing high rates of obesity and smoking and alcohol related disease such as diabetes, cirrhosis, chronic bronchitis and bowel, lung and stomach cancers and in the case of alcohol misuse contribute to mental health problems, domestic abuse and teenage pregnancy.
Dr Ardern has studied how the recession has affected people’s health and what we need to do to overcome these challenges. The last three years has seen the establishment of large scale, innovative and award-winning prevention services in the borough to tackle the major causes of early death and ill-health such as “Lose Weight Feel Great”.
Other initiatives include “Find and Treat” – the heart disease and stroke screening service offered to all over 50s and being extended to all over 40s over the next 18 months; bowel cancer screening; the Health Trainer service; the Healthy Business Award and the exciting development across the borough of Community Health Champions.
“The goal for the next 12 months is to ensure that we meet the health challenges of economic recession, that we continue the progress we are making with reducing premature avoidable deaths in women and that together we make sure that our men have the same chance to live the longer healthier lives they deserve.”
You can read the report online, or download it from Public Health Annual Report (external link)