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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Health, Not Health Care – Changing the Conversation

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health recently released her 2010 Annual Report, calling for a change in the way society thinks about health. Titled Health, Not Health Care – Changing the Conversation, the report calls for a clear understanding that our health is significantly affected by the economic, social and environmental conditions that shape our lives.

Dr. Arlene King wants to see a comprehensive plan to improve the health of Ontarians that features clear health goals, targets, and health indicators. She urges provincial, regional, and municipal governments to apply a health lens to every program and policy in the province, using a tool such as Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to assess the potential health effects of any policy, program or project. And she recommends breaking down the systemic barriers that get in the way of collaboration between different sectors, including health, education, social services, and the environment.

These are important messages from a provincial Medical Officer of Health. The majority of factors affecting our health are complex and intertwined, requiring the problem-solving skills of multiple government departments, multiple levels of government, and other sectors of society. The report is an excellent and accessible summary of the issues. As Dr. King points out in her report, a comprehensive overall plan is needed “to address the disconnect between what we know needs to be done, and our ability to do it.”

Elaine Kachala (policy lead) and Judy Irwin (writer) worked on the Health Council of Canada’s report on the determinants of health, Stepping It Up: Moving the Focus from Health Care in Canada to a Healthier Canada (Dec 2010).

1 comment:

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