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A snapshot of Islanders' health and wellbeing

25 November 2016

The newly released publication Health Profile for Jersey 2016 is a compendium of local population health indicators across a range of areas, many of which can be compared to other regions, including Guernsey. It provides a snapshot of the overall health of the population of Jersey and of the ‘determinants of health’. The Profile covers the time period from 2013 to 2015; this enables comparison with the latest available UK and EU indicators, but is not necessarily the most up to date or detailed local information available.

Health Profile for Jersey 2016

Overall, Jersey’s statistics are positive in many of the comparisons. The Profile shows

  • our population scores its health higher than the UK population
  • high life expectancy
  • average life satisfaction scores are higher than most countries
  • low stillbirth and infant mortality rates
  • decreasing numbers of deaths from heart disease
  • very low teenage conception rates
  • high coverage for childhood immunisations
  • decrease in smoking among children and adults

However, Jersey has: comparatively low breast feeding rates; one in six babies living in homes where they are at risk from passive smoking; deaths from suicide and accidents, which result in many valuable years of working life lost; a high level of premature deaths from liver disease; one in three children and one in three pensioners living in relative low income.

As with the rest of the world, cancers and heart disease remain the major causes of death in Jersey. The report shows that there are still premature deaths that are preventable – for example, much liver and heart disease, many cancers, accidents and suicides.

The impact of alcohol and smoking-related ill health on our economy is still evident in the data. Smoking still causes one in five of all deaths among those aged 35 and over, and lung cancer accounts for a high proportion of working life lost.

The Profile also reports on multiple behavioural and environmental factors, some of which contribute to good health and others to poor health. Wider determinants of health, such as the society, environment and communities in which we live and work, make big differences to the health and wellbeing that people experience. Evidence also shows that our lifestyle and health choices can be shaped by the conditions in which we are born, grow, live and work.

Head of Public Health Intelligence, Jill Birbeck, explained “The Health Profile is made up of a number of ‘health ‘indicators’, each of which describes a different aspect of population health. The aim has been to include indicators that give a balance of information across a range of areas that can be compared with other regions. The Health Profile provides an information source to support and inform a wide range of strategic initiatives, including the Sustainable Primary Care project and wider cross-governmental public health work.”

Head of Health Improvement, Martin Knight, commented “There is a commitment in the States of Jersey’s Strategic Plan to ‘do more to support healthier lifestyles and to help reduce preventable disease’. In essence, a sustainable healthcare system is one that helps people to stay healthy, and not one that only treats illness. The data in this report will help us to focus attention and resources on the importance and value of policies that help create healthier environments and support preventive measures.

“This new report shows that smoking and alcohol risks, although still too high, are continual improving. We now need to ensure continued efforts through our States of Jersey alcohol and tobacco strategies to keep the momentum. Internationally, dietary risks are now known to have overtaken smoking and alcohol as causing the highest burden on health. The data from this report with findings such as 51% of the adult population are overweight and obese, and increasing, confirms this is likely to be the case in our Island population too.”

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Turnbull, said “I am delighted that our latest Health Profile is ready for publication and for sharing widely. It’s even more comprehensive this year in the range of topics it covers and I hope that all my health professional, political/governmental, and media colleagues – and everyone else in the Island – finds it as useful a resource as I do. My thanks to my Health Intelligence analyst colleagues for this exceptional tour de force.”

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