New battle against health inequalities

HEALTH inequalities in areas of Ipswich look set to be combated.A series of initiatives could be set up in Town and Bridge wards to help improve people's lifestyles and lead to a longer life.

HEALTH inequalities in areas of Ipswich look set to be combated.

A series of initiatives could be set up in Town and Bridge wards to help improve people's lifestyles and lead to a longer life.

Tomorrow Dr Brian Keeble, the Suffolk director of Public Health is due to urge Ipswich Primary Care Trust to back a proposal to set up a steering group and employ a director to champion the work that needs to be done.

Earlier this year Dr Keeble published a research paper showing that among other things, people aged between 45 and 75-years-old, living in the two areas, were more likely to die from strokes and heart disease, cancer and lung disease at a faster rate than anywhere else in Ipswich.


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He pointed out that all three of the diseases are linked to at least one of three key factors of people developing them – smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet.

But he claims that as well as doing things such as providing stop smoking clinics, other factors such as living in a poor built environment, stresses and fear of crime and inadequate income might all influence the lifestyles that people adopt to get them through the day.

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Dr Keeble said that one of the plans to do something about this is to get a number of agencies working together to look at the more deep-seated problems.

Also included in tackling the problems would be to find out the views of people living in the area.

In his report Dr Keeble said: "This is important as it will provide a community view as to the cause of the problems and their solutions."

A Government programme to address health inequalities was released in July in a bid to tackle such things as poverty, poor housing, homelessness and the problems of disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

Ipswich PCT is already taking some action towards combating these problems, including the setting up of Sure Start schemes to help children up to the age of four, and their parents.

In his report Dr Keeble said: "The real challenge for the PCT now is how it can make work to tackle health inequalities as mainstream as work to reduce waiting times at Ipswich Hospital."

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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