ALMOST half of the population of Limerick city is officially regarded as socially and economically disadvantaged, very disadvantaged or extremely disadvantaged.
That’s according to the Report of the Director of Public Health ‘Working Together for Better Public Health Outcomes in the Mid-West’ which was published last week.
The Department of Public Health Mid-West works to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of those living in Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary, by preventing ill-health, improving health and health services
Key findings about the people of the Mid-West includes population statistics which show that there are now 384,998 people living in the region.
According to the report, “comparisons with 2011 data show the population in the region is increasing and growing older. Socio-economic deprivation remains a key issue in the region, particularly in Limerick City – with more than 40 per cent of people classified as disadvantaged, very disadvantaged or extremely disadvantaged”.
There were 13,958 deaths recorded in the Mid-West between 2013 and 2017. The top causes of death were heart disease, (4,534), followed by cancers, (3,991) and lung disease (1,894).
More than 13,000 infectious disease cases were notified to the Department of Public Health Mid-West in the four year period between 2013 and 2017.
There were 1,509 cases of influenza, one-third of cases were in those aged 65 years or older.
The report states that the Mid-West has one of the highest notification rates of Verotoxigenic Escherichia coli infection (VTEC) in the country.
Between 2013 and 2017 there were 645 cases and 79 outbreaks of VTEC in the Mid-West, forty percent of cases were in 0-4 year olds.
VTEC are bugs found in the intestines of many healthy animals which produce a toxin, called verotoxin that can cause a serious form of diarrhoea and tummy cramps in humans. Its most serious complication is Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) which occurs in 5-10 percent of cases. HUS is a medical emergency which requires intensive medical treatment in hospital which may include transfusion and dialysis.
The report advises that “ensuring that private wells are properly maintained and regularly disinfected can help prevent VTEC infection. Hand washing is also important.
It also stresses the importance of vaccination for children and annual flu vaccination for older people and people at risk from flu.
Between 2013 and 2017 there were 5,194 notifications of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
“Education is important to help prevent STIs. Key messages include consistent and correct use of condoms and STI screening for those who are at risk of infection,” the report says.
View the full report here.