South East Wales

Higher premature death rate in Blaenau Gwent targeted by new scheme

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Media captionLife expectancy for men in Blaenau Gwent is three years below the national average

The higher premature death rate in one of the most deprived areas of the country is to be targeted by a new £300,000 programme.

Men in Blaenau Gwent have among the lowest life expectancy in England and Wales.

Average life expectancy for men in Wales is 78.2, but in Blaenau Gwent it is just 75.7 years.

The Living Well Living Longer scheme aims to reduce the gap between those living there and in healthier areas.

People will be able to have a health check to assess their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and cancer over the next 10 years.

'Unacceptable inequalities'

The illnesses share many factors, such as poor diet, little exercise, smoking and excess alcohol intake.

The Welsh government has given Aneurin Bevan University Health Board money to improve primary and community care to support the delivery of the programme in the area.

Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething said despite improvements in life expectancy, more must be done to address the "unacceptable inequalities".

"It is very fitting that the communities of Tredegar and Ebbw Vale are pioneering this programme, especially as the founder of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, was the MP for these areas," he said.

He said Aneurin Bevan and Cwm Taf health boards were selected because the areas experience some of the most significant health inequalities.

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