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Report Gives Region-wide Perspective on Health Status

August 23, 2011
For Immediate Release

Vancouver Island – Dr. Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer for the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), released his report on the Health Status of Vancouver Island Residents, 2010. The report provides data on the health status of VIHA residents over the past decade and captures a broad array of health indicators and socio-economic factors, such as unemployment, that impact long-term health status.“Overall, residents in our region have higher rates of physical activity and healthy eating compared to other regions. Our region has also experienced reductions in smoking rates and premature deaths over the past decade”, said Dr. Stanwick. “Unfortunately, the global economic downturn has impacted our region’s socio-economic conditions which can undermine long-term health status.”

To help counter possible long-term effects, Stanwick highlighted the need to continue to focus on prevention programs. “For example, our premature mortality rates are higher than the provincial average. These rates are due to suicides, motor vehicle crashes and diseases, many of which are associated with alcohol abuse and smoking which are entirely preventable.”

Stanwick noted that VIHA also has a higher concentration of seniors than any other jurisdiction in Canada. “With the imminent ‘silver tsunami’, this region will experience significant pressure on our acute and residential care systems before any other area in Canada,” said Stanwick. “Keeping seniors active and healthy to avoid and/or manage chronic diseases and minimize unnecessary hospitalizations is so important.”

VIHA also has higher rates of teen pregnancies compared to the provincial average, and a moderate increase in the rate of developmental issues in younger children. “All chronic diseases have their origins in childhood,” Stanwick went on to say. “Providing programs that foster fitness, healthy eating and early childhood development is necessary to maintain health and wellness into adulthood.”

Stanwick noted that VIHA is already working with many communities, local physicians and community service providers across the region to improve how health care services are delivered to address many of the issues discussed in the report.

“Investing in prevention strategies takes very few resources when compared to treatment costs for established illnesses, but the challenge is that the payoff is in the future and the call on funding must compete with the demands currently faced by our care providers,” said Stanwick. “Making healthy lifestyle choices is also easier if the communities we live in embrace and support these behaviours and accompanying supportive measures such as bicycle path creation and smoke-free beaches and parks.”

To read the full report, please visit:http://www.viha.ca/mho/publications/

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Media Contact:
Shannon Marshall
VIHA Communications
250-370-8270

Download: http://www.viha.ca/NR/rdonlyres/B9A3DC2F-6B30-48C4-9C4B-D39C963A4844/0/health_status_2010_may_20_updated.pdf