‘Focus on better health must be relentless’ - Wales' top doctor
2:30pm Thursday 10th October 2013 in Pontypool news
A "RELENTLESS" focus on preventing poor health and improving the quality of health services is needed in Wales, says chief medical officer Dr Ruth Hussey.
Wales' top doctor wants the medical profession and the public to work together to improve the nation's health and lifestyles.
And she wants public services and businesses to make it easier for staff to adopt healthier lifestyles, to break down barriers that can make it difficult for people who want to take that step.
Dr Hussey's annual report for 2012/13 - called Healthier, Happier, Fairer - details the state of Wales' health, the work being done to improve it, and the challenges to that work, caused by the likes of social deprivation and several years of economic downturn.
She sees health not as a separate subject, but as the foundation for a full and enjoyable life - and life expectancy in Wales is continuing to improve, with the rate during 2009-11 78 years for men and 82.2 years for women.
"Healthy life expectancy is also lengthening, though the rise is not constant year on year," said Dr Hussey.
"In 2008-10 the average healthy life expectancy was 63 years for both men and women.
"People are living longer however, they are ageing with chronic illnesses.
"Many health problems are known to be avoidable. Letting things go wrong and then trying to rectify them is wasteful and costly. It is also contrary to the principle of sustainable development to which the Welsh Government is committed.
"We must reduce unhealthy lifestyle factors such as smoking, drinking and obesity, which contribute to avoidable causes of premature death and ill health."
Dr Hussey stressed however, that action is needed across a person's lifespan, and "our task is to prolong the time we spend in good health."
* Dr Hussey's report highlights too the continuing gaps between different parts of Wales in terms of life expectancy, good health expectancy, and other measures of wellbeing.
Cancer and heart disease remain the biggest killers in Wales, with parts of Gwent having some of the highest rates.
Torfaen has Wales' highest rate of deaths among men from cancer, at 260 per 100,000 population, while Blaenau Gwent has the highest death rate from cancer amogn women, at 198 per 100,000.
Blaenau Gwent also has Wales' highest death rate among women for heart disease, and the area scores lowest in the Welsh Health Survey's physical and mental wellbeing table, based on people's perceptions of their own wellbeing.
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