SDLP councillor Paul McCusker has called for a strategy to address health outcomes in Belfast.
He was speaking after a report from Belfast Healthy Cities showed Belfast had the worst health outcomes when compared with the rest of the North.
The report found life expectancies for men and women were also lower in Belfast.
Councillor McCusker said:
“The findings of this report show an urgent need to address the health outcomes of people living in Belfast compared with the rest of the North. It’s completely unacceptable that people here on average live two to three years less than those elsewhere.
“Despite often greater access to healthcare than other parts of the North, people here on average seem to be in poorer health and we need to address why that is. In some cases it’s because of lifestyle choices like drinking or smoking and obesity, but it can also be due to a failure to engage with healthcare services regularly throughout their life.
“These issues are much more prevalent in north and west Belfast than other parts of our city. Every day I see the poverty that people are dealing with, parents struggling to feed their families and keep a roof above their heads and this also contributes to poor physical and mental health due to the stresses these people are under and the choices they are forced to make to survive.
“In the coming months and years we need to see a drive to ensure that everyone is able to access the healthcare they need as and when required and has the means to do so. We must also work to tackle the underlying societal problems in our city if we want to give everyone the chance to live as long and healthy a life as possible.”