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Friday 29 August 2014

Ireland scores poorly for cutting heart and cancer death rates

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Published 01/07/2014 | 02:30

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The rate of obesity here is higher than in most other European countries
The rate of obesity here is higher than in most other European countries

IRELAND is still lagging behind many other countries when it comes reducing death rates from our two biggest killers – cardiovascular disease and cancer.

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The OECD Health Statistics report for 2014, which looks at key health measures in 34 countries, said Ireland ranked as high as 15th for deaths from cardiovascular disease and was even worse for cancer deaths, where we are in tenth place.

Although the figures for Ireland relate to 2010 – and Ireland is likely to have improved its ranking since then – the report highlights how we remain among the worst countries for smoking and drinking.

Ireland ranks in fourth place for smoking and alcohol consumption by adults and we are now the ninth of 16 countries for obesity.

The report said the "proportion of daily smokers in Ireland has decreased over the past decade, from 33pc in 1998 to 29pc in 2007" but this remains well above the OECD average of 21pc.

"Obesity rates have increased in recent decades in all OECD countries, although there are notable differences," the report said. "In Ireland, the obesity rate among adults – based on actual measures of height and weight – was 23pc in 2007."

This is much lower than in the United States (35.3pc in 2012), but is higher than in many other European countries.

The growing prevalence of obesity foreshadows increases in the occurrence of health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and higher healthcare costs in the future.

However, Ireland is doing better when it comes to increasing our life expectancy which has risen to 81 years, leaving us 16th in the table, a considerable jump on the average age of 76.6 years in 2000.

Ireland is among the worst countries for the number of doctors per 1,000 population and is placed at 24 in the list, falling to 27 for hospital beds.

However, compared to other countries Ireland has a high number of nurses, the fifth best in the league table. Health expenditure per capita has doubled since 2000 but the report points out that total health spending accounted for 8.9pc of GDP in Ireland in 2012, slightly less than the OECD average of 9.3pc.

It said that following the economic crisis health spending in Ireland was "reduced sharply in 2010 and 2011 as part of government-wide efforts to reduce large budgetary deficits".

Irish Independent

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