Learn English in the UK or in your own countryspacerUK courses and qualifications in the UK or in your own countryspacerThe best of British arts, media and designspacerPromoting British expertise in science, engineering, technology, environment and healthspacerGovernance and the rights of peoplespacerLibraries, information centres, seminars,  knowledge networks and the information society
What is the British Council?spacerVisit our worldwide network of officesspacerRead all about our collaborative workspacerFind our services, departments, libraries, personnel, etc.
The British Council home page
Poor in health

A major report on inequalities in health was published towards the end of November - the outcome of a year-long investigation commissioned by the government and headed by former Chief Medical Officer Sir Donald Acheson. A total of 75 recommendations have been made to reduce the 'health gap' between the rich and the poor. The gap has grown during the last few decades.

In 1970 a male manual labourer was twice as likely to die as a professional of the same age; by 1990 the death risk was three times higher. Universal health campaigns, like breast cancer screening, have increased health inequalities as the take-up is much higher amongst the better off. Smoking is far more common in lower social classes. Sir Donald said the government should do more to tackle the problems of the less well-off: 'While they have done many things which are beneficial in this area what is required is a sustained effort over the next ten years'. His team's recommendations include more water fluoridation, nicotine patches on the NHS, increasing benefits and putting more money into schools and public transport. The report may be accessed in full on the Internet at: www.official-documents.co.uk.

It will no doubt produce a number of reactions which we shall report in future issues of Health Insight.

Meanwhile the National Heart Forum has said the government must act to reduce deaths from heart disease amongst the poor. Professor George Davey Smith of the University of Bristol said the failure to reduce coronary mortality in the lower social classes was due to rising levels of deprivation. The Forum has called for a 'national food plan' to encourage the consumption of fruit and vegetables. Its proposals include free fruit and vegetables for schoolchildren and an extra dietary allowance for low-income women who breastfeed.

Sources: BBC Online, BMJ 7 November

Forward to Boosting care for the elderly
Back to December 1998 index

Return to the themes page

  Produced in the United Kingdom by The British Council © 1999. The British Council is the United Kingdom's international organisation for educational and cultural relations. Registered in England as a Charity.