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This week (7 April 2023) is World Health Day, organised by the World Health Organisation.
This year’s theme is ‘Health for All’ and is an opportunity to motivate action to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s health challenges.
A key campaign message for World Health Organisation member states is ‘healthy living environments can transform people’s lives.’
However, a recent report from leading lung charity Asthma + Lung UK has revealed three areas in the UK with the highest emergency admission and death rates for lung conditions.
People in places such as Blackpool, Liverpool and Inverclyde are among the most likely to be admitted to a hospital in an emergency and die from their lung condition in the UK.
The charity urges UK governments to end the lung health lottery by investing in earlier diagnosis, improved care, and respiratory research and innovation.
Its End the Lung Health Lottery campaign analysed and ranked the latest rates of emergency hospital admissions and deaths from lung conditions, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory infections like flu and pneumonia, for 216 local authorities throughout the UK.
Health inequalities and the North-South divide
Asthma + Lung UK says that despite the tireless work of NHS doctors and nurses, basic levels of care for people with lung conditions are patchy. It states the reasons for such high rates of emergency admissions and deaths in some areas are probably due to health inequalities.
Many of the areas with poor lung health are in locations where people experience higher levels of deprivation. This can lead to problems such as having no choice but to live in poorer quality housing, where cold, damp and mould can all be triggers for asthma attacks or cause lung conditions to worsen.
Within England, there is a North-South divide when it comes to poor lung health. Places in the North-West of England makeup over half (6/10) of the areas ranked highest for emergency admissions and deaths across the UK.
The places include Knowsley, Salford, Blackburn with Darwen, Liverpool, Blackpool and Manchester. Many of these areas where people experience poor lung health, such as Blackpool, Manchester, Knowsley and Liverpool, are also areas where people experience higher levels of deprivation.
Some of the areas facing high death and emergency admission rates also have increased levels of air pollution.
According to Asthma + Lung UK, levels of PM 2.5, the most dangerous type of air pollution to human health, in Blackpool (ranking at number 210) are four times higher than levels in the Shetland Islands in Scotland, which has one of the lowest emergency admission and death rates (ranking at number 13).
In addition, a historic lack of investment in lung research and innovation across the UK has also contributed to poor lung health.
“It’s ironic that as World Health Day embraces the theme ‘healthcare for all’ we have so many health inequalities on our doorstep where people are struggling to breathe and dying preventable deaths.
“People living in deprived areas can’t just move to healthier areas. What’s needed is government action to ensure people with lung conditions and respiratory injuries benefit from earlier diagnosis, can breathe better quality air and receive the specialist support and treatment they need.”
Asthma + Lung UK provides help and support to people with lung conditions wherever they live. To find out more, visit www.asthmaandlung.org.uk.
Novum Law has a team of specialist lawyers who can provide expert legal advice if you or a family member has a respiratory condition, like cancer or other illness that may have been caused by air pollution or exposure to harmful chemicals, irritants or dangerous materials, such as asbestos, at work.
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