Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BCHC Newsletter - June 2011


Welcome to our summer student Ronnie!
We are pleased to announce that Ronnie Tadesse will be working with BC Healthy Communities as a summer student until August 12th, 2011. Ronnie is a former City of Victoria Youth Council member and SPARK grant recipient. She is currently enrolled as a student at the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales. Ronnie is a natural leader and will be a great addition to the team. She will primarily be working at community events to do outreach to other youth about our programs and opportunities. We're very
happy to have Ronnie joining us!


The Healthy Communities Approach and Chronic Disease Prevention
by Jodi Mucha

In Canada today, more than nine million people suffer from some form of chronic disease.
It is estimated that this number could significantly increase as populations age if action is not taken. Growing concern about chronic disease prevention in our society had led us to recognize that a more comprehensive and integrated approach is needed to address the causes of the diseases and we need strategies that extend outside of the health system. The Healthy Communities Approach is an effective, and integrated global model that takes an upstream approach to chronic disease prevention.

The Healthy Communities Approach

The international healthy communities movement originates from the World Health Organization’s
“Healthy Cities” project, launched in 1986. Worldwide, the Healthy Communities (HC) Approach addresses the complex interplay of how the various aspects of health not only shape where we live, but how we live. This worldwide movement is based on the core value of capacity building and empowerment of individuals, organizations and communities and is based on:
  • Multiple and interconnected determinants of health
    (Social, environmental, physical, cultural, economic, psychological, etc)

  • Five key building blocks:
    1. Community/citizen engagement
    2. Multi-sectoral collaboration
    3. Political commitment
    4. Healthy public policy
    5. Asset-based community development
There is recognition of the vital role of all levels of government (local, provincial, national) in creating conditions for health and human development. Also of importance is development of public policy in non-health sectors, policy that explicitly intends to improve community and population health (for example, ‘healthy’ policies developed by transportation and housing). Tapping into the positive assets of a community and building on the existing strengths and capacities of a community’s people, organizations, institutions and its physical assets is also key to overall community success.

Integrated Action for Chronic Disease Prevention
Research indicates there is an overall consensus on the seven chronic diseases which have the greatest effect on our populations mortality rate. These diseases include: cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes respiratory diseases, arthritis, hypertension and mood disorders. Recent statistics and evidence also indicate that these diseases tend to co-occur and in fact, more than one-third of persons affected suffer from two or more forms of these diseases.

Chronic disease prevention is a complex community challenge—one that requires thinking and action that supports the complete state of health (physical, mental, social), which goes beyond the mere absence of disease. Healthy communities activities are inclusive community processes that encompass: 

a) an area-based development strategy that supports communities to have a greater role in their health and well-being,
b) preventative action on health determinants that encompass common risk factors to chronic diseases, and
c) inspiring change for overall improvement of population health that includes collaboration amongst a wide range of sectors.
Taking integrated action on the determinants of health entails consideration of a range of community issues including income and social status, social support, literacy, employment, physical and social environments, personal health practices and coping skills, health services, gender, culture and healthy human development. Bringing multi-sectoral communities together to collaborate around a common vision for a shared future is one effective way for communities to grow and thrive in a health promoting way- an approach that is an upstream, proactive approach to chronic disease prevention.

Prince George, BC
by Jodi Mucha

Last year, the City of Prince George completed my PG, an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP). This plan captured the results of extensive public and stakeholder engagement aimed to create a vision of the long-term future of Prince George and outline what is needed to achieve this vision. Six of the top ten goals were social goals. Overall, residents of Prince George indicated they wanted a community that supports and encourages health and wellness for all. Youth was identified as one of the important aspects of this vision. health and wellness for all. Youth was identified as one of the important aspects of this vision.
In early February 2011, the City of Prince George partnered with BC Healthy Communities, the Northern Health Authority, the Canadian Cancer Society, Sustainable Childhood Obesity Prevention through Community Engagement (SCOPE), and a range of community groups such as the Storytellers Foundation as well as local schools to take specific youth engagement action around achieving healthier weight in children and youth. This project, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, will allow youth in Prince George to build skills in participatory action research, and develop a range of leadership skills around working together towards achieving healthier weights for children and youth in rural communities.  

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