Thanks to the Health Inequalities Strategy implemented in 2018, London health inequalities are tinier than they were three years ago. However, some progress is still needed for an equal society.
Health inequalities in London have been reducing. This is the result of a report published in August 2021 by the Greater London Authority, which is an administrative body responsible for the strategic administration of Greater London.
This report is part of a wider strategy implemented by the mayor of London and his partners for a period ranging from 2018 to 2028, which aims at reducing health inequalities between London inhabitants.
"The London Health Inequalities Strategy (HIS) sets out the Mayor’s priorities to tackle unfair and avoidable differences in health between individuals and groups of people”, the report explains.
“The different circumstances of our lives — the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age — affect our chance of living a long, healthy life. These include things such as income, homes, jobs, education, relationships, access to green spaces and amenities, and air quality”.
As a consequence, the HIS has been trying to offer everyone equal circumstances of life.
The HIS has been focusing on childhood
Since 2018, the strategy has helped children to have a healthy start in life by supporting parents and carers, early years settings and schools. As an example, 21 of the 22 “priority” boroughs provide local support so far. An advertising ban on unhealthy food and drink across the TfL network has been introduced on TfL network, while a new policy restricting new hot food takeaways within 400 metres walking distance of primary or secondary schools has been implemented.
Since 2019, in the early stages of the pandemic, mental health has become a priority by inviting people to talk, thus reducing stigma and encouraging them across the city to work together to reduce suicide. Over 70% of boroughs have delivered in-borough training, and over 3200 education and youth organisation staff have received training. In addition, young Londoners Fund supports projects providing wellbeing and mental health support and helping young people overcome trauma. What’s more, in August 2020, the Mayor announced a further £2.1m to help 15,000 more young Londoners boost their skills and improve their mental health.
Environment and sports are core objectives as well
The HIS has also worked in getting healthier streets and the best air quality of any major global city and in addressing homelessness and rough sleeping.
To do so, it has “introduced the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in April 2019. 87% of vehicles seen in the zone on an average day now meet the strict emission standards and nitrogen dioxide pollution has reduced by nearly half in central London. Cleaned up London’s buses with all buses in TfL’s 9,000-strong fleet now meeting or exceeding the cleanest emission standards, reducing harmful emissions from buses by an average of 90%. Transformed London's taxi fleet by no longer licensing new diesel taxis and reducing the age limit for older cabs with nearly 4,000 zero emission capable taxis now on the street”.
The HIS eventually aims at helping Londoners to be physically active, making sure they have access to healthy food, and reducing the use of or harms caused by tobacco, illicit drugs, alcohol and gambling.
The report details:
“2019/20 data shows that 42 per cent of Londoners achieved 20 minutes of active travel per day, an increase of 3 percentage points on 2018/19”. By 2041, all Londoners should “do at least the twenty minutes of active travel each day (e.g. walking, cycling) that they need to stay healthy, with efforts focussed on supporting the most inactive”, the report concludes.
London is still struggling with health inequalities
Life expectancy at birth now reaches 80.9 years for men and 84.7 years for women in London (respectively 79.8 years and 83.4 years in the rest of England), whereas healthy life expectancy at birth is 63.5 years for men and 64 years for women in London (respectively 63.2 years and 63.5 years in the rest of England). The overall health and wellbeing of Londoners is improving. Over the last decade, there has been a fall in the rates of early death from cancer and heart, circulatory and lung diseases. London has been improving so much with health on the whole it could become the world’s healthiest global city. Nevertheless, despite progress, London still has the widest health inequalities in England, as Healthy London Partnerships explains.
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