More must be done to help us live longer says Chief Medical Officer

Thu, 08/12/2011 - 10:05 -- Editor

Too many people still die too young or live with conditions that can be prevented, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride said today.

Launching his annual report in Belfast, Dr McBride said his top priority was to maintain and then improve the health of the Northern Ireland public.

“The general health of the public is improving and although life expectancy is increasing too many people still die too young or live with conditions that could have been prevented,” he said.

“There is still an unacceptable gap in health status between the most and least advantaged in our society. Where you live should not determine how long you live.

“Our Investing for Health Strategy and the various lifestyle strategies which it embraces have made a significant contribution to improvements in health. However, if we are to properly address many of the causes of ill health we need to go beyond the Health Service and work in partnership at all levels across government.”

Dr McBride added: “Alcohol misuse and its impact on health in both the short and longer term is an important concern for Northern Ireland. I welcome the recent consultation on Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol. This would be a very desirable public health intervention given the clear relationship between price and consumption.”

The Chief Medical Officer also highlighted how the introduction of legislation had, in the past, changed behaviour and improved health. In particular he asked for consideration to be given to legislation to protect and support breast feeding in public places where children would normally be.

The report also covers a number of other important health issues including; the planned introduction of screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm in men aged 65 from June 2012, the extension of bowel screening to age 71 from April 2012, the impact of climate change and extreme weather events on health and delivery of health and social care, and the progress made in reducing MRSA and C.difficile infections among hospital in-patients.

The report also highlighted the increase in the number of organ transplants in the last year. In conclusion, Dr McBride said: “We should all discuss our wishes with our family and join the Organ Donor Register.”

The report can be found at: http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/cmoreport