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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 16:51 GMT
Move to tackle health inequality
Stethoscope
NHS bosses pledged to tackle the source of health problems
Health chiefs in Forth Valley say they have taken steps to tackle the health divide between the rich and poor.

Although health has improved overall, there are still differences in life expectancy across the area, according to an official report.

It emerged that men in better-off areas could live about eight years longer than those in the most deprived areas. Women lived almost four years longer.

NHS Forth Valley said it aimed to spot health issues at an earlier stage.

According to NHS Forth Valley's annual public health report, the health of residents in Stirling was better than those in parts of Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

Health partnerships

Malcolm McWhirter, director of public health, said: "This inequality in health is unacceptable and one of the main reasons that Scotland's health is worse than the rest of the UK.

"NHS Forth Valley, local authorities and other organisations must intensify their efforts through community health partnerships to reach people in deprived communities and groups."

Of Forth Valley's three local authority areas, Clackmannanshire had the highest death rate for cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Plans are underway for a pilot project in Tullibody to tackle problems such as smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity through health promotion before the illnesses strike.


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