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Closing the mortality rate gap
The work that has been done to reduce high infant mortality rates in Bradford over the last few years must be commended in the highest possible terms.
But sadly, there is still a significant gap between the level in the district and the national and regional average. The latest figure for Bradford shows the infant mortality rate is 7.9 at an age under one per 1,000 live births, which is down from 8.1% last year.
It is the fourth consecutive year it has declined, and it marks positive progress against the highest figure, which was 9.4 in 2003.
However, it only has to be put alongside the overall average for Yorkshire and Humber, which was 5.2%, and for England, which was 4.4% to demonstrate that there is still a considerable amount of work to be done.
Having said that, the work of the Every Baby Matters programme to improve maternal and infant health has been crucial in bringing the mortality rate down.
Local agencies have worked together to tackle specific issues in the Bradford district. It is social factors in particular that will be a priority going forward, with the NHS and Bradford Council focussing on poverty, nutrition, awareness of genetic inheritance, and drinking, smoking and substance abuse as key areas.
Hopefully, this approach will help the decline in the mortality rate and bring us more in line with national and regional averages, although the continued recession can only add to the pressures affecting it.
We have made real tangible progress in tackling this issue, and that must continue. The health of our children is absolutely paramount and it is vital more is done to close this gap between the Bradford mortality rate and the national and regional one.