Happy 117th! - Close the gap

MISAO OKWAW, the world’s oldest woman was 117 yesterday. The Japanese lady confirms the findings of a 2011 analysis published in The Lancet which attributed Japanese longevity to a number of factors, including diet, social equality and public health measures.

During the years of post-war economic expansion Japan invested significantly in public health through universal health insurance and childhood vaccination programmes and fought high rates of stroke with salt reduction campaigns and blood pressure control measures.

That led to a situation where, in 2013, life expectancy for Japanese women was 86.61 and for men it was 80.21 years. In Ireland those ambitions are set at 68 and 73 so there is a considerable gap.

We are still struggling to establish and deliver the kind of health services we imagine a modern European country should have.

We are familiar with all of the obstacles and difficulties but the gap between Irish and Japanese life expectancy shows the consequences of not having a premium health service in the starkest terms.


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