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Why not make health an issue in the federal election?

August 25th, 2015 | Posted by vimhsadmin in people first media

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“A real federal health policy would begin by acknowledging that the health and well-being of the population is a central concern of government”

Dr. Trevor Hancock is a public health physician and health promotion consultant and is currently a professor and senior scholar at the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria. He writes a regular column for the Victoria Times-Colonist that focuses on issues related to health.

In his first article, Dr. Hancock states up front that his focus will be on health. He won’t be writing much about health care, because the evidence suggests that it’s not all that important as a determinant of our overall health, compared to broader environmental, social, economic and behavioural factors.

Health or health care?

The distinction between health (or health promotion) and health care is an important one to make when trying to understand government policies and political positions related to either health or health care. And of course, it seems the election trump card called “the economy” usually trumps any real discussion related to health matters during campaigns anyway.

We know a great deal about what makes people healthy, yet too often, governments put human well-being below other priorities, largely on ideological grounds or because of pressure from powerful interest groups. — “Human well-being should come first” by Trevor Hancock

But why can’t an election campaign focus on issues related to health? Dr. Hancock writes in his recent column on the topic:

What, for example, is the health impact of our energy system and what would a “healthy” Canadian energy policy look like? How about a healthy food and agriculture policy, a healthy urban planning and transportation policy, a healthy housing policy? — “How about health as an election issue?” by Trevor Hancock

If one accepts that the government’s most important role is to look after the well-being of citizens–rather than the well-being of the economy–then why shouldn’t health become a key issue in any election campaign?

We speak with Dr. Trevor Hancock.

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trevor hancockTrevor Hancock was the first leader of the Green Party of Canada. Under his leadership, the party ran 60 candidates in the 1984 federal election. He is a public health physician, and currently serves as a Professor and Senior Scholar at the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria. He also consults with the World Health Organization. Together with Dr. Leonard Duhl, he created the Healthy Cities project that looks at environmental aspects of sustainable urban development as a determinant of health. In 2005, Hancock was also instrumental in initiating BC Healthy Communities–a provincial initiative focused on building capacity for healthy municipal governance. [source: Wikipedia]

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