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New Public Health Agency must redress regional imbalances in health provision.

1 April, 2009 - by Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin MLA and deputy chair of the Health Committee, Michelle O’Neill, has welcomed the launch of the new Public Health Agency stating that the Agency must now strive to address the regional and specific health inequalities that exist within the six counties.

Speaking today Ms O’ Neill said:

Sinn Féin welcome the launch of the new Public Health Agency. There was a demand for such an agency to focus on tackling the root causes of inequalities within health provision across the six counties.

“The DUP voted against the creation of such a board stating that it would create another health body, however it is clear that the issues the new Public Health Agency would be charged with are much too important to risk them being lost in the overall Health Board.

“Sinn Fein argued for this agency strongly believing that the amalgamation of its functions under the new Health Board, also launched today, would dilute the overall aims of the tackling the severe inequalities in our health provision.

“The new public health agency has massive challenges in dealing with the root causes of social discrimination which ultimately lead to higher levels of poor health, affecting some of the most vulnerable communities.

“We only have to look at the correlation of the high incidences of cancer, heart disease and asthma, for example, in areas of high social and economic deprivation to see how this challenge shapes up. It is these communities that need to see clear redress in health provision from this new Agency, with a focus on redressing the massive imbalance that currently exists.” 

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