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Our Island, Our Health 2008

Produced by the Public Health (Strategic Policy, Planning and Performance)
Authored by Dr Rosemary Geller, Medical Officer of Health and published on 14 Jul 2008
Prepared internally, no external cost


​Jersey's Medical Officer of Health, Dr Rosemary Geller, has urged the States of Jersey to become a world leader of good health. In her third annual health report, she makes 25 recommendations to radically improve the overall health of the Island's population. She says “While health is generally good in Jersey, we have some worrying problems to tackle. I aspire to move Jersey from occupying the middle ground in many international health league tables to become a world-class front runner for good health”.

Dr Geller builds on and consolidates her experience as Medical Officer of Health in the Report which has been sent to all States members. “Improving health is not something I can do alone,” she points out and invites States members, Ministers and their Officers to work with her in the future.

The Island has benefited from a number of successful health initiatives and excellent health statistics, as the report illustrates:

  • health has improved since 2006 according to the new Island health profile
  • infant mortality is low
  • at the opposite end of the age spectrum, older Islanders (>65) generally keep well and remain independent (94%)
  • smoking prevalence is down to an all time low (20%) with the new stop smoking service – ‘Help 2 Quit’ - proving popular and running at full capacity
  • hospital and healthcare-linked infection rates (such as MRSA and Clostridium Difficile) are very low in Jersey
  • pre-school immunisation coverage has improved in 2007 making outbreaks, child deaths and disability less likely

However, Dr Geller points out that Jersey does have problems, with poorer health likely in the future, largely due to obesity and excessive alcohol consumption. In addition:

  • Jersey secondary school meals need approving in order to meet UK ‘Healthy Schools’ standards
  • breast and cervical cancer screening coverage remain very low
  • more people die from cancer in Jersey than the national average
  • alcohol statistics are getting worse with an estimated 42 Islanders dying each year as a direct result of the effects of alcohol
  • like other developed countries, the Island is experiencing the adverse impact of obesity: The increasing levels of obesity mean that the Island could be heading for an abyss of poor health in the future, with today’s children having a shorter lifespan than their parents.
  • Jersey has more food poisoning cases than England and Wales and needs an up to date Food Hygiene Law
  • historical determinants of Public Health need attention to replace the Island’s ageing incinerator, composting and sewage works
  • relentless traffic volumes bring air pollution and squeeze out pedestrians and cyclists
  • Islanders suffer more on average from depression and anxiety than the national average; these conditions account for just under £8.5 million claimed by Islanders each year for incapacity allowance

Dr Geller concludes that taking action now will mean not just better health and services for many Islanders, but also less drain on the economy. Her priorities for action are to:

  • improve school meals
  • tackle obesity and alcohol, in the same comprehensive way in which the Island has successfully reduced smoking
  • see the introduction of a robust, real-time population database for cancer screening invitation purposes
  • ensure prompt therapy for people suffering from depression or anxiety
  • keep older people in their own homes through good planning and design and through home support
  • urge all States Departments to ensure a positive health impact from their new policies and initiatives

Download Our Island, Our Health 2008 report - part 1 (size 1mb)
Download Our Island, Our Health 2008 report - part 2 (size 1mb)
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