SDLP Foyle MLA, Mark H. Durkan, has called for a standalone anti-poverty strategy to address the phenomenon of women and men living in Derry’s and Strabane’s poorest neighbourhoods dying years younger than their wealthier fellow citizens.
The SDLP health spokesman issued the call in light of the Department of Health’s recently published ‘Health Inequalities Annual Report 2018’ that made for stark reading for the North West.
Among the report’s findings was that female life expectancy in the 20 per cent poorest areas of the Council stood at 78.3 years - 3.6 years less than the projected life expectany of the average Derry woman, (81.9 years).
The life expectancy for poorer Derry men, meanwhile, was 72.5 years, 5.1 years fewer than the 77.6 average in Derry and Strabane.
Mr. Durkan blamed poverty and said a bespoke stategy was needed to address the issue.
He said: “Poverty is the root cause of many of the challenges we face as a society. The effects of poverty are far reaching and can place people in situations that are challenging to break free from.
“The figures which show that deprived areas Derry City and Strabane have the second highest premature death rates are a stark reminder that some of the most vulnerable people in our society are being failed.
“The figures also show that there are almost 500 avoidable deaths per 100,000 in the poorest parts of Derry. “That is 500 mums, dads, brothers, sisters and 500 families left devastated; devastation and heartache that is avoidable. This must act as a wakeup call to us all. When you tackle poverty, you can begin to transform lives.
“This is why the SDLP has consistently called for a standalone anti-poverty strategy, with clear cross cutting targets focusing on health, education, employment and housing.
“An anti-poverty strategy must be included in the Programme for Government and this remains a key priority for us in the resumption of any new talks process.”