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RICHER MEN GET 21 YEARS MORE; Health board links up with London to bridge health gap.

Byline: Robin Turner robin.turner@walesonline.co.uk

EXPERTS who have found a "healthy life gap" of 21 years between men in the most and least deprived communities of a large swathe of South Wales are going to London for help.

The healthy life gap for women is 16 years.

The glaring inequality in the amount of time the well-off and the less well-off spend as healthy adults has been identified in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board's annual report.

The board area stretches from the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend to Gower.

Sara Hayes, the ABMU board's director of public health, explained: "People in the more well-off areas live, on average, eight years longer than people in poorer areas who tend not only to die younger but may also spend more of their lives in ill health.

"There is a difference in healthylife expectancy of 21 years between men living in the most and least deprived areas of the ABMU areas. For women, the gap is 16 years."

The report says smoking attributable deaths are twice as high for men and women in the most deprived areas as compared to the more well-off places.

She added: "Inequalities in health arise because of inequalities in society such as the conditions in which people are born, grow, work and age."

The ABMU Health Board is now to link up with the University College of London, Institute of Health Equity, which is led by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who has carried out a worldwide review of the causes of health inequalities. Already it has been agreed one of the key priorities in South Wales will be supporting families and parents to ensure every child is given the best start in life.

This will include prioritising preand postnatal care and supporting families in the child's early years, for example when preparing for school.

Another key priority will be to work with local people to make individual communities as healthy and vibrant as possible.

Paul Roberts, chief executive of the ABMU board, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for organisations and agencies across the health board area to work together.

"It is vital everyone has the same access to good healthcare and support.

ABMU Health Board is delighted that tackling health inequalities is being made a top priority among partners and will do all that we can to support it."

Last month, starting her new role as Chief Medical Officer for Wales after the retirement of Dr Tony Jewell, Dr Ruth Hussey said the widening gap between the nation's haves and have-nots was something she would be prioritising as Wales' top doctor. The healthy life gap in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg region is mirrored elsewhere. Recent statistics showed men in better-off areas of Cardiff, such as Lisvane and Llanishen, can on average expect to enjoy good health until they are almost 75, whereas those in less affluent areas such as Ely and Butetown may only stay healthy until 52.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 25, 2012
Words:496
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