Residents in the most deprived parts of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) area can expect to live almost three years less than the average local.

This grim statistic is among many contained in a Health Inequalities Annual Report recently released by the Department of Health.

Among the reports findings is that smoking is killing more locals than drugs and alcohol, and Cancer remains the major disease which is taking the most lives in the area.

The report is a comprehensive analysis of health inequality gaps within Local Government District areas across a range of indicators.

Male life expectancy in the most deprived areas of FODC is 75.9 years which is 2.7 years fewer than the overall male life expectancy in the local area – 78.6 years. The average life expectancy for males in Northern Ireland is 78.5 years.

Female life expectancy has declined in the most deprived areas of FODC, unlike the rest of Northern Ireland, where it has either increased or remained similar. Here, local females living in the more deprived areas have a life expectancy of 79.9 years which is 2.7 years fewer than the overall female life expectancy in the area – 82.6 years. The average life expectancy for females in Northern Ireland is 82.3 years.

The five largest deprivation inequality gaps identified locally are: alcohol related hospital admissions; alcohol specific deaths; smoking during pregnancy; self-harm hospital admissions and drug related deaths.

The report finds that the deprivation inequality gap for alcohol specific deaths between locals in the most deprived areas and the overall district has gone up by 74 per cent. Meanwhile, a 91 per cent deprivation inequality gap exists between residents from the most deprived local areas and the average local for alcohol related hospital admissions. In Enniskillen, the rate of alcohol related hospital admissions was worse than the overall FODC area, while in Erne East and Erne West, the rate of admissions was better than the overall FODC area.

Similarly, drug related deaths affect more people in the deprived local areas than the average citizen, with a deprivation inequality gap of 60 per cent. The report shows that the deprivation gap for lung cancer deaths is 49 per cent and the deprivation gap for smoking related deaths is 31 per cent.

The standardised death rate for under 75s in the FODC area is 143 per 100,000 for Cancer (no change); 72 per 100,000 for Circulatory (improved); and 35 per 100,000 for Respiratory (declined). 

Locally, nine per cent of mothers in the overall FODC area are smoking whilst pregnant. But in the most deprived local areas, 16 per cent of pregnant women are smokers. That equates to a deprivation inequality gap of 64 per cent. 

Meanwhile, the proportion of breastfeeding mothers in the FODC area has improved, with 51 per cent of all mothers choosing to breastfeed and 46 per cent of mothers from the most deprived local areas breastfeeding - the Northern Ireland average is 46 per cent.

More locals from deprived areas are being admitted to hospital for self-harm and are being prescribed drugs for mood and anxiety than in the district overall, the report finds. Deprivation inequality gaps exist in relation to both areas, with a 66 per cent gap for self-harm hospital admissions and a 20 per cent gap in the standardised prescription rate for mood and anxiety.

The most notable areas where health outcomes were better in FODC than the Northern Ireland average were drug related admissions, teenage births and smoking in pregnancy.

The report states that the most notable widening of deprivation gaps in FODC were in female life expectancy, circulatory admissions and lung cancer mortality.