Mixed messages on key health targets

There has been little progress on key government targets to reduce
health inequalities by 2010, research has revealed.

The gap between the average life expectancy and infant mortality
rates of the poorest and of the rest of the population has widened,
according to the Department of Health research.

The government is aiming to reduce both inequalities by 10 per cent
by 2010. The target was announced in February 2001 and the study is
based on 2003-4 figures.

Public health minister Caroline Flint defended the lack of
progress, arguing that the report was not expected to show any
narrowing of the inequalities because it measured such a short-time

However, the study highlights that the proportion of children
living in low-income households fell by nearly a fifth from 1998-99
2003-4. The government also said it had made progress in housing
with a large reduction since 1996 in the number of households
living in non-decent homes.

Ministers named 12 areas that will each receive £200,000 for
the “health trainer” initiative announced in the Choosing Health
white paper. The money will pay for the trainers, who will help
people with personalised health plans.

The initiative covers the most disadvantaged areas and will extend
to the rest of England in 2007.

Tackling Health Inequalities: Status Report on the Programme
for Action from: www.dh.gov.uk

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