More to health than doctors and hospitals

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January 24, 2017 8:44 AM

It’s Population Health Promotion Awareness Week, with the theme “Take Another Look” and Prairie North Health Region (PNHR) wants residents to do just that when it comes to the numerous factors that influence health.
According to PNHR, many people are unaware three-quarters of things that make people healthy have nothing to do with the healthcare system, that’s why from Jan. 22 to 28, the health region wants to draw some attention to the matter.
“I think the biggest reason for Population Health Promotion Awareness Week is so often people forget about the other factors that affect our health, (though) we don’t expect people to think about them all the time,” said Benita Brick, population health promotion (PHP) practitioner for Lloydminster.
“But having a once in a while reminder that there’s more to your health than doctors and hospitals, and that those determinants of health play such an important role in keeping us healthy, it’s important those determinants of health get recognized every once in a while, so people can remember why sometimes these bigger projects happen, rather than just focusing on what happened with what we normally think of as healthcare.”
Some of these determinants include the social, economic and physical environments people live, learn, work and play in, which can be homes, schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods and communities.
Brick said a person can make choices to better their health, but these determinants can still affect how healthy, or unhealthy, a person is despite their best efforts.
As an example, she said if one isn’t gainfully employed, or working isn’t working in a safe environment, that’s going to influence one’s overall well-being, despite having proper sleep, diet and exercise.
“Even how well you’re connected to your community and your neighbours, and if you’ve got a good strong base of support, that’s going to affect your health, whether you have that or you don’t,” she said.
“So those are the kinds of things that, when you look through Population Health Promotion, we try to affect, so the choices you make are thought about in that broader context; sometimes you can’t just choose to be healthy because there are other things affecting those choices you can make.”
The goal of PHP is to think about the root causes of poor health and find ways to better awareness, environments and public policies, so everyone can benefit from the removal and reductions of those dreaded determinants.
When it comes to Brick’s role in the Border City, this could mean having the same protections from secondhand smoke on both sides of Lloydminster.
It could also involve things as simple as pedestrian access around the community, opportunities to meet neighbours, and chances for children in terms early childhood education.
“All those kinds of things are things we like to try to influence through our community group work in the city,” Brick said.

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