Reduction in health inequalities between neighbourhoodsThe figures from the annual report ‘Health in Barcelona’ reflect a reduction in health inequalities between the city’s neighbourhoods and an increase in life expectancy. This year is the first time the study gives data for deaths attributable to poor air quality. Between 2010 and 2017, air pollution caused an average of 422 deaths per year.
‘Health in Barcelona’ is an annual report compiled by the Barcelona Public Health Agency (ASPB), outlining the state of health of citizens using health indicators and taking into account the physical and socio-economic environment in the city.
Longer life expectancy, les inequalities
Some of the most relevant data in the report show an increase in life expectancy in the city, the highest on record. For the first time ever, life expectancy stands at over 81 for men (81.2 to be exact) and 86.9 for women, the highest figure ever.
On this occasion the ASPB report also reflects a reduction in inequalities between city neighbourhoods, notably in two spheres: life expectancy at birth and obesity.
For the period 2014-2016, there was an improvement in inequalities in terms of life expectancy between well-off and poor neighbourhoods compared to the period for 2011-2013. The difference was reduced from 4.5 years to 2.7 years between these two periods.
Ciutat Vella is the district with the shortest life expectancy among men (78.1) and women (85.2). The highest figures for men were in Les Corts (83) and the highest figures for women were in Nou Barris (87.7).
In terms of obesity, the figures have improved in the last decade. In 2006, excess weight was a problem which was 2.3 times more frequent in the most underprivileged social classes, while that figure now stands at 1.5.
The figures show that underage pregnancies, more common in neighbourhoods with the lowest incomes, have been practically halved around the city in the last ten years.
Sexually transmitted infections
Regarding the main sexually transmitted infections (STI), the increase detected the previous year was halted in 2017. The growth in the number of cases of gonorrhoea was 30%, compared to 149% the previous year (2016). The number of cases of syphilis grew by 10%, compared to 88% the previous year.
The data for HIV show that 352 cases were detected in 2017, compared to 301 in 2016, representing a ratio of 21.8 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Pollution, a cause of mortality
This is the first time the ASPB annual report includes figures for deaths attributable to poor air quality. It is estimated that 354 people died in Barcelona in 2017 through causes linked to poor air quality. In the period 2010-2017 the average figure was 422 deaths per year.
The evolution of data for this period establishes a correlation between the degree of pollution and the number of mortalities. In years with higher densities of PM2.5 microparticles there were more deaths, peaking at 594 (2011), 706 (2012) and 529 (2015).
In terms of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), mainly generated by diesel vehicles, 70% of Barcelona’s population are exposed to levels higher than those recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). As for PM10 particles, 98% of the city’s population breathe in higher levels than those set by the WHO.
Besides NO2, PM10 and PM2.5, Barcelona also exceeds WHO recommended limits for benzene, ozone and benzopyrene.
See the report ‘Health in Barcelona’ here.