Friday, June 13, 2008

Our Health, and Future Health Care II

Better health can be tackled through a multi-pronged approach.

Back in April I did a post related to problems in the overall health care system. At the Cameron Inquiry yesterday, Robert Ritter, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, described the strain and stress of overworked medical personnel in all areas of care, besides the current area of focus now, Pathology. He says the pay increase has created anger among the medical association. That's a problem that NLMA are pressuring government to address. If my hearing is normal I think he also mentioned prevention (of illness) in his post inquiry press interview. In the meantime, what can the general publc do to relieve health strain?

As I mentioned in the April post, there are plenty of things we can do, like help prevent health problems that are within our control. We know that exercise helps. Avoiding foods, habits and environments that we know will lead to serious problems is another way. Last fall I was interviewed by Deanne Fleet about health care and the emergency room crisis at the time. Though only a small part of my chat with her was played, I mentioned a few ideas about how society has a role in how well the system runs. One was, why not have general health telethons each year to raise money not just for the Janeway, but for senior's care, or ER for example. How about putting more focus on healthier lifestyles and eating by an aggressive long term campaign of education? Emphasize taking control of our own health destinies.

And to reiterate briefly a few other suggestions regarding how government and health decision makers can affect future health care, there needs to be more stringent regulating of harmful food ingredients. The food industry has so much influence on what gets labeled as healthy. The health check symbol program is a good example. That program is misleading - many foods that are very high in sugars and sodiums are approved for the health check symbol. Let nutrition experts alone, not food industry reps determine Canada's food guide, and nutrition criteria for programs like the health check symbol.

One more, junk food advertising to children under 13 could be banned. That idea was introduced in the Ontario legislature in April. With obesity and type 2 diabetes on the rise in young people, there will be more chronic care required for younger people, unless this situation is analysed, and thoughtful preventative measures are put in place.

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