January 28, 2010 - Chief Medical Officer: Ontario needs a system-wide public health strategy that involves all three levels of government to restrain health care costs and prevent Ontarians from getting sick and injured.
Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's Chief Medical, 1st King’s 2009 annual report entitled: Public Health: Everyone’s Business end — was chosen to reflect this multi-pronged approach. 2009 Annual Report Of The Chief Medical Officer Of Health Of Ontario To The Legislative Assembly Of Ontario, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, ontario.ca/health. 1/27/2011.
In her 2009 annual report to the legislative assembly, Dr. King says that prevention efforts must be directed in five areas:
* Reducing obesity and physical inactivity
* Investing in healthy child development
* Preventing injuries
* Reducing health inequities
* Investing in the war on tobacco.
The federal, provincial and municipal levels of government must be involved, she said, as well as the health, education, financial and social sectors.
“It’s everyone’s business when 60 percent of Ontarians are overweight or obese (and 26% of children are overweight or obese),” King told reporters at a news conference. “It’s everyone’s business when injuries are the single greatest cause of death for Ontarians under 45.” The province needs to address health inequities, particularly for northern Aboriginal communities where poverty and isolation create substantial public health problems, King said. More attention also must be directed to early childhood development, where government has a role to ensure children have save communities, good schools and clean water, she said.
“The investments we make will pay huge dividends in the future health of our children and the adults they will become.”
King said Ontario also needs to step up its efforts to reduce tobacco consumption. The province spent $42.8 million on tobacco control in 2009-10, down from $52.6 million in 2008-09. A smoker in Ontario dies every 40 minutes and smoking costs the province almost $8 billion in health care costs productivity losses every year, she said. King said the government has brought in tougher new tobacco rules, including banning smoking in vehicles where children are present, but needs to do more. “We must not lose momentum,” King said. “We have plateaued.” Approximately 13,000 Ontarians die from tobacco use each year.
King says the province also needs a public health strategy that focuses on prevention and health promotion. She says a comprehensive strategy will improve people’s health and rein in massive growth in health-care spending. King says she plans to release her recommendations for a public-health strategy before the October 6, 2011 provincial election.
References: Ontario public health strategy needed, Megan Ogilvie HEALTH REPORTER, healthzone.ca, 1/28/2011; Ontario Needs Comprehensive Public Health Strategy, www.news.ontario.ca, 1/27/2011.