The twin aims of the Regional Public Health Strategy, Investment for Health are to improve health and reduce inequalities. Progress towards these aims can be measured using some key indicators. These include circulatory disease, accidents, cancer and suicide.
Mortality rates from these indicators are commonly used as indicators of the health of a population.
They have the advantage that they provide generally unambiguous measures of health status and are collected on a consistent basis. However, it should be remembered that they give an incomplete view of health as in many situations ill health does not lead to premature death.
In recent years in England, average life expectancy has been around 75 years for men and 80 years for women. Broadly in line with this, deaths before the age of 75 are sometimes referred to as premature deaths.
Given the inevitability of death at some stage, premature death is of particular public health interest in that it generally has a higher degree of preventability.