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Problems cutting lives short in Kirklees.

Byline: KATIE EARLAM

SMOKING, mental health and lack of opportunity for children have been identified as the three key problems in Kirklees.

In the annual Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, developed by the Kirklees partnership, health and council officials outlined plans to tackle the health and well-being of Kirklees people.

Their three-part strategy includes increasing opportunities for children and young people to reach their potential, promoting the importance of positive mental health by helping people to cope with stress-related illness and reducing levels of smoking.

Clr Mehboob Khan - who chairs the partnership, which includes NHS Kirklees, the council and other partners - said: "The JSNA provides a comprehensive picture of the issues affecting health and well-being in Kirklees.

"If we are going to make significant inroads to tackling these challenges then collectively we must focus on a person-centred approach where we allocate resources and supports according to need".

He said following last year's JSNA there had been some improvements.

"Overall the picture is promising. Smoking and alcohol use amongst young people has fallen, but one in ten teenagers smoke and one in eight drink regularly.

"Sexual activity in 14-year-olds fell by 25% but teenage pregnancy rose. Educational attainment has continued to improve across all areas, however there are large gaps between boys and girls, ethnic groups and neighbourhoods. These figures are based on a survey carried out with year nine pupils in Kirklees schools.

"Life expectancy has continued to improve but is still below the national average, especially for women.

"Infant deaths are falling but they are still above average, especially in North Kirklees."

The third annual JSNA recognises that the most significant ill-health issues for Kirklees are survival from cancers, cardiovascular disease including stroke, dementia, diabetes, obesity, pains and respiratory diseases as well as infant deaths.

But they have said that the most significant personal behaviours are smoking, diet, inactivity, alcohol misuse and issues surrounding sexual activity. Dr Judith Hooper, director of public health for NHS Kirklees, said: "Issues such as the rising levels of obesity, diabetes in later life, smoking, educational attainment or availability of work all have a huge impact on people's quality of life."

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* 'HUGE IMPACT': Dr Judith Hooper
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Aug 1, 2011
Words:363
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