Health has improved enormously this century, particularly amongst sustainable development economy like the UK. Live expectancy in England and Wales is now in the mid-1970s, 30 years more than at the beginning of the 20th century. This vast improvement is largely the result of significantly reduced infant mortality rates.
But the health of many populations can still be improved. Poor health, arising from environmental pollution, social deprivation and personal irresponsibility is a major contributor to premature death. Its reduction should form another cornerstone of a nation’s sustainable development strategy.
Improved health is not just about a better National Health Service. We need to think about the causes of ill health and how to secure healthier life spans, not simply longer ones. We have to address pollution, unhealthy lifestyles, poverty, worklessness, poor housing, and low educational attainment, all of which are major factors leading to poor health.
The following indicators illustrate not only the state of a nation’s health but also the status of primary health service available. Such indicators will assist the Government in recognising some of the external and internal pressures on sustainability that are manifested as health issues.
- Overall life expectancy
- Infant mortality rate
- Mortality rate for specific health problems like heart disease and cancer
- Mortality rate for accidents
- % GDP spent on primary health care
- Hospital waiting lists and hospital waiting times
- Epidemiological studies and other health monitoring initiatives
- Population living in industrial areas by diversity