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Health divide is “significant challenge”

28 October 2010

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The Scottish government is committed to tackling the health divide between rich and poor even though it could “take generations to see a change”, according to a minister.

Public health minister Shona Robison (pictured) said the divide represented a “significant challenge”, but stressed that the government wanted to tackle the issue. Her comments come after the publication of a new report looking at health inequalities.

Both men and women in deprived groups have lower healthy life expectancy, the number of years a person is expected to live in good health, according to the report.

It also showed that healthy life expectancy among the poorest men was 18.8 years less than the expectancy for the most affluent. Among women, the poorest could expect to enjoy 17.1 years in good health less than the most affluent.

Figures show that in 2008 there were 259 deaths from alcohol-related conditions per 100,000 people among the most deprived, compared with just 28 per 100,000 in the least deprived.

Premature deaths from coronary heart disease were more common among the most deprived, with 299 deaths per 100,000 people compared to 63 per 100,000 people amongst the most affluent.

Cancer deaths were also more common amongst the poorest, with 588 deaths per 100,000 people compared with 273 deaths per 100,000 people in areas of low deprivation.

In addition, mental wellbeing was found to be lower in the most deprived groups and it was more common for babies to have a low birthweight.

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