Plans were approved this week by West Lothian Council’s executive to create community health champions to tackle health inequalities within its towns and villages.
The champions will work to develop and deliver local health initiatives and to promote greater involvement with local communities.
Champions will be based in each of the nine council ward areas.
Health inequalities exist in every community and across the social classes or population groups.
In West Lothian, there is a difference in male life expectancy of 9.2 years and for females of 8.7 years between the communities with the highest and lowest average life spans.
Anne McMillan, executive councillor for health and care, said: “We are absolutely committed to improving our communities and tackling inequalities in health.
“It’s a priority for the council and the first time that an approach such as this has been developed in West Lothian.
‘‘We have high expectations that this new, exciting approach will deliver positive results in West Lothian.
“The champions will be highly trained, experienced and committed to building relationships with local groups, the community and health practitioners.”
Jennifer Scott, head of social policy, added: “Health inequalities are complex and cannot be attributed to a single risk factor.
‘‘Although lifestyle choices are important, many other factors combine which, together, can affect the health of both individuals and communities.”