Despite recent improvements, the health of people in Wales is poor compared with that in the majority of European countries and in other parts of the UK. Within Wales a significant proportion of the population remain deeply disadvantaged in terms of expectation of life and health-related quality of life, and there are wide variations between those with the poorest health and those with the best.
In the last 25 years, death rates from avoidable diseases have fallen steadily and life expectancy has increased. Across Europe, life expectancy at birth for both men and women has increased by about 5 years. Throughout that period, life expectancy in Wales has been amongst the worst in Europe at approximately three to four years less than in the best countries. Life expectancy in some areas of the South Wales Valleys is about five years less than in some other parts of Wales.
Heart disease is the major cause of death in Wales. Although the death rate in Wales has declined considerably in recent years, it remains substantially higher in Wales and the UK than in many European countries, particularly France, where the rate is approximately one third that in Wales.
This can be explained by the un-healthy lifestyle lived by most people in Wales, particularly the lower socio-economic groups. This is because only 34.9% of men and 16.0% of women regularly exercise. This has increased for both sexes of the past couple of years, mainly due to different attitudes to lifestyles.
When you study the eating pattern statistics available you would consider this to be quite strange because the number of people using solid cooking fat has decreased significantly over the past twenty years, the number of people who consume red meat (lamb, pork or beef four or more times a week) has also decreased to only 20.9%. But, the number of people who drink alcohol above the recommended limit, remains high for men at 27.4%, but is rising in women to 11.2% of the population.
The percentage of people who are over weight or obese in Wales is currently over 50.0% of the population for both males and females. This is a form of malnutrition and is caused by people regularly eating more energy than they use, they therefore put on weight. These people are more at risk of suffering from a number of diseases such as high blood pressure (linked to strokes and heart attacks), increased chance of diabetes, and are more at risk of several cancers.
I believe that there are more people overweight or obese in Wales because of people’s attitudes, there is a culture of eating foods high in fat and carbohydrates (often lower in price than healthier options). There is also a culture of binge drinking and smoking. This puts enormous pressure of vital organs such as the liver and lungs, and contributes to weight gain.
I therefore believe that most of Wales’ health problems are linked to a very poor diet smoking and a poor exercise regime, which contributes to nearly all of Wales’ health problems. If changed I see no reason why the heath of the Welsh people will differ from any of those in other parts of healthy Europe seen as they have access to the same, sometimes better, and rarely worse medical treatment/prevention.
Comparative To Un-Developed Nations
The health problems faced by the people in Wales are very different to the health problems faced by people in many developing nations.
In developing nations, people are mainly malnourished because of poverty – the lack of money to buy food, or land, resources and knowledge needed to grow crops. Other factors include a shortage of clean drinking water – a shortage felt by one-quarter of the world’s population – as water is more expensive and difficult to trade than expensive than agricultural products. These are problems that are never experienced by people in Wales.
There are many other problems experienced by people in un-developed nations including AIDS/HIV (due to poor sexual health), cholera (due to the poor drinking water, and poor sewage treatment). People are also more at risk of vitamin deficiencies that cause diseases such as xerophthalmia (caused by the lack of vitamin A) and rickets (caused by the lack of vitamin D).
People in un-developed nations generally no not have access to many vaccines that prevent diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella. This is because the governments often do not have the money available to buy the drugs off the wealthy drugs companies.
People in Wales have access to all vaccines that they require, although this is sometimes not accepted, but if someone was to fall ill with a disease such as measles they experience excellent medical treatment.
I therefore believe that it is an advantage to live in Wales rather that an un-developed nation as you have the ability to choose what you eat and drink and how often you exercise. This therefore means that you have the chance to be healthy, whereas people in many people do not have that chance, and if they are seriously ill, there is often not a hospital in which they can receive the correct medical treatment.