Male and Living on the Gurnos? You'd Be Better off in Haiti; LIFE EXPECTANCY JUST 58 ON MERTHYR TYDFIL ESTATE

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 10, 2011 | Go to article overview

Male and Living on the Gurnos? You'd Be Better off in Haiti; LIFE EXPECTANCY JUST 58 ON MERTHYR TYDFIL ESTATE


Byline: ALED BLAKE; JONATHAN WHILEY

WALES' gulf in wealth was laid bare yesterday after data revealed developing nations like Haiti and Iraq have a higher life expectancy than men living on one of Wales' most deprived housing estates.

In fact, men living in parts of the Gurnos in Merthyr Tydfil can expect to die well before they are due a state pension.

There, the life expectancy is as low as 58.8 years for men, according to Cwm Taf Public Health Board.

That is lower than for people living in countries including Haiti, Gambia and Iraq.

Nicola John - a director of Cwm Taf Public Health Board, who revealed the statistics in a presentation to Merthyr council - said there was "a strong correlation between being out of work and public health".

And she said: "Figures show that suicide in men who have been out of work for more than six months increases by 40%."

Victoria Winckler of the Bevan Foundation - a Valleys think tank - said the data should shock the authorities into action.

She said: "Although healthy living is very important, it's not the only answer. Eating well and exercising still does not give you enough money to go out occasionally or heat your home. It doesn't give you a job with a sense of purpose and well-being. I would ima-gine you would find similar statistics in almost all the estates in the South Wales Valleys and possibly elsewhere.

It's not just as simple as giving people jobs.

"I would like to see a more serious attempt at tackling inequalities in Wales. Let's have a really meaningful job-creation programme for the Valleys that is linked to rising education standards and an improvement in health provision."

Huw Lewis, AM for Merthyr and Rhymney, said: "Gurnos suffers from very high levels of deprivation which have been ingrained over many decades.

"Traditionally high rates of unemployment and the associated problems, all have a bearing on life chances and life expectancy of residents.

"The role of our NHS is vital. With the multi-millionpound investment in the NHS here in Merthyr, we will see the biggest improvement in local health care for generations."

Shadow health minister Nick Ramsay described the statistics as "both startling and acutely worrying".

He said: "This week Labour and Plaid Ministers voted for an Assembly budget that will see the NHS missing out on pounds 1bn over the next three years," he said.

"We would protect that budget and focus government efforts on a new approach that tackles the causes of ill health, not just the symptoms.

Despite the hard work of its staff, the NHS in Wales is failing, and serious figures like these prove that now is not the time to cut its funding. …

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