Headlines: May 18th, 1999

The health survey for England has highlighted areas of poor health in adults of 16 and over. The analysis maps the unequal chance to be healthy and reveals the black spots, such as the South Yorkshire coal field, and the mining area of Cornwall.

The findings of the survey are explained to some extent by the annual report of the World Heal Organisation which revealed that neuropsychiatric conditions – from depression, to alcohol or drug dependence, dementia and panic disorder, accounted for 23% of the disease burden. Depressive illnesses can be caused by radical changes for the worst in people’s lives and expectations. The devastation of whole communities resulting from economic changes is such a radical change.

Closing the health gap is one of the Government’s goals and the survey shows that some of the health action zones are in areas of deprivation with poor health records, but it also shows other areas where no specific measures are in place. Health and local authorities will be able to make use of the survey findings in devising their Health Improvement Plans.