(Dublin, Thursday 30 June 2016): The Pfizer Health Index has shown that 55% of us view budgetary health cuts as having impacted us the deepest with 86% of us ranking health as a top priority for investment in the future. These findings were found in the 11th annual Pfizer Health Index launched today at the Science Gallery in Dublin. The Index launch was addressed by a number of experts in the area including Dr Nina Byrnes, GP, Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood and Dr John Sharry, Family Psychotherapist. The research also highlighted that since the financial recovery has started, Irish adults have become more optimistic about their health with 65% of us rating our health as 8 or higher out of 10.
The report highlighted that after a long term decline, private medical insurance holder numbers stabilised at 36% however membership is still far lower than pre-recession. Medical card holders also remained the same as 2015 at 43% but remain higher than pre-recession. The report also highlighted that attendance at the GP increased significantly over the past five years, from 23% attending in the past week or month compared with 29% in 2016.
Dr Nina Byrnes, GP, said, “I’m delighted to be involved in the launch of the eleventh annual edition of the Pfizer Health Index. It is reassuring to see that people are more positive about their health and in general we have seen an increase in the numbers of people visiting their GP and participating in health checks or screenings. Based on my general practice, the most common reasons for visiting the GP are skin conditions, colds and flus, musculoskeletal complaints, psychological issues, chronic disease care, pregnancy care, child immunisations and preventative health investigations.”
Speaking at the launch, Mr Paul Reid, Managing Director, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, said; “I would echo the sentiment of the Index findings this year. The economy continues to dramatically improve across a wide range of indicators providing the opportunity not only to continue with reversing cuts introduced during austerity, but also now to look at where we should invest. It will take some time yet and more years of good economic performance but we urgently must look at our investment in health which was reduced in recent years. We are in an era of scientific advancement and technological progress with the potential to significantly improve people’s health and extend life with policies and strategies which support investment in health innovation.”
This year, the report also looked at family health as 32% of us cite their health as our main concern. When asked about family health, parents were asked to rank their health priorities for their children which were as follows:
Parents were also questioned about a number of issues related to their child’s health including awareness of their weight, frequency of exercise, sleep and screen time. Only 47% of parents reported knowing their child’s weight and only 7% of parents believed that their child may be overweight. When asked if their child exercised in line with national guidelines – 60 minutes every day – only 20% reported that this was the case with the average being four times per week.
Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood said, “One in four of our children are currently overweight or obese, yet because the norm has changed we are not recognising this reality. Children’s social, emotional and physical health is being harmed. We as a society must partner with industry and the Government to turn the tide on childhood obesity in Ireland as a matter of priority.”
Parents were also asked about the use of screens within the home with 2 hours 16 minutes per day reported as the average length of time that their child engaged in this on a daily basis. The incidence of children bringing a screen to bed (iPad, phone etc) was noted at 15% with 24% of parents having no rule about this either way.
Dr John Sharry, Family Psychotherapist said, “Modern technology is undoubtedly impacting on the health of our family unit and we can see that children are more sedentary than before. There has been exponential growth in the use of screens particularly with mobiles and tablets and in Ireland we currently have more mobile phones than we do people. While technology is a powerful tool, it is important that parents aim to be in charge of the use of that technology, rather than technology being in charge of you.”
Please visit Pfizer.ie to watch the video or read more of the Pfizer Health Index results.
Published: 30th June 2016.