Prevention of Disease & Brain Health Promotion

Andre Picard’s article in the Globe and Mail (November 18/15) called for a “coalition of the willing” to improve healthcare in Canada. A number of articles other newspaper articles and Go Public has recorded complaints about Canadian healthcare, particularly on lack of availability of services and long and often indefinite wait times.

In the year 2000, the World Health Organization concluded that France had the world’s best healthcare followed by Italy, San Marino, Andorra and Malta. Bloomberg produced their annual ranking placing Singapore on top followed by Hong Kong, Italy, Japan and South Korea. The Economist ranked Japan as number one followed by Singapore, Switzerland, Iceland and Australia. Their Commonwealth Fund ranked healthcare in 11 western countries giving first place to UK followed by Switzerland, Sweden, Australia and Germany.

What is most irritating is that Canada was a leader in health promotion which was advanced by the Ottawa Charter in 1986. It has been widely adopted and The Nordic countries have been exemplary in following that plan. The only country amongst the participants which is not following the Ottawa Charter is Canada.

Given that age-related degenerative brain diseases are increasing exponentially and that such diseases will not have a ‘silver bullet’ cure, the medical community considers health promotion and prevention to be of exceeding importance.

Canada has no national health promotion package, never mind a program, although some organizations have actually initiated such a plan but have not had adequate support for publicity.

It is important to note that the advancement of such a program is relatively inexpensive as it would be mostly educational without the need for expensive equipment or medical personnel. Such a program should focus on the whole population, including isolated groups, not merely those already afflicted with early dementia or its major risk factors. If we are to shift illness to the later years (morbidity compression), the process should start early. Brain health starts with those planning a family, expectant women, parents and importantly in schools.

Picard A. Canada needs “coalition of the willing” to improve healthcare. The Globe and Mail. November 18, 2015. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/canada-needs-coalition-of-the-willing-to-improve-health-care/article27306638/)

Catford J. Ottawa 1986: The fulcrum of global health development. Promot Educ 2007;(suppl 2):6-8.

Kiraly SJ. Mental health promotion for seniors. BC Medical Journal 2011;53970;336-340.

The Healthy Brain Program. Your Healthy Brain. (http://www.healthybrain.org)

The Fountain of Health (FOH). (http://www.fountainofhealth.ca)

Fountain of Health

November 18, 2015