Health Insight March 2001: Tackling inequalities
Health secretary Alan Milburn has defined the first national target to reduce health inequalities, which the government has always regarded as one of its health priorities. Mr Milburn said, 'Starting with children aged under one year, by the end of the decade, the difference in death rates between children born into the poorest families and children born into average families will have fallen by at least ten per cent'. This would save around 3,000 lives by 2010.
Commentators have expressed varying views as to whether the target is meaningful and whether it will possible to ensure that it is achieved. There have been calls for it to be linked to economic targets to reduce the wealth gap. John Nicholson, Chief Executive of the UK Public Health Association, said that setting a target specifically on the issue of low birthweight would be 'more meaningful in requiring intervention from a range of agencies, and more straightforward in its measurement'.
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