North Antrim UUP MLA Robin Swann, Chairman of the Stormont All Party Committee on Congenital Heart Disease, has challenged Stormont Executive “to make it a top medical priority to save over 1,100 people a year from dying of heart conditions”.
Mr Swann issued his challenge as he said he “fully supported calls by leading heart charity, British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI), to make tackling Northern Ireland’s biggest killers a top priority after the May Assembly elections”.
Mr Swann said: “I strongly urge the Stormont Executive to set a robust target to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and dementia by 25 per cent by 2025.
“Our constituency is not immune from these killer conditions and government urgently needs to work towards meeting the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 25 by 2025 framework that challenges member states to take action on NCDs, with the aim of achieving a 25 per cent reduction in premature mortality by 2025.
“Reform and modernisation of our health service, implementing strategies and frameworks already in place in Ulster, and focusing the public health agenda on preventing disease make up just some of the work that’s needed to meet this target. As a community, we cannot ignore the stark figures of the situation.
“These reveal that NCDs are responsible for around 13,000 deaths in Northern Ireland each year, or 87 per cent of all mortality;4,600 of these deaths were classed as premature (those aged under 75); if Northern Ireland was to meet the WHO 2025 premature mortality reduction target 1,150 lives per year would be saved.
”Bearing these frightening statistics in mind, I was exceptionally pleased to attend a recent event in Stormont organised by BHF NI, where leading experts in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, respiratory diseases and dementia discussed the need for the next Stormont government to develop a plan to meet WHO targets.
“I am proud to support BHF NI’s Back the Beat campaign and I am behind the charity’s fight to ensure the Stormont Executive takes urgent action to meet the challenge set by the WHO.
“Too many lives are lost in my North Antrim constituency from diseases such as cancer, heart disease and dementia. By working together, the next Stormont Assembly can work to meet this target and prevent premature deaths.
“By setting targets to reduce tobacco and alcohol use, salt intake, sugar intake, obesity, and raised blood pressure, modernising our health system and redesigning services we can help save lives,” said Assemblyman Swann.