OTTAWA, July 30, 2013 /CNW/ - Poverty kills. That's the key message in What Makes us Sick, a report released today by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA)
based on what Canadians said during a series of town hall meetings and
an online consultation held earlier this year. The national dialogue
with Canadians asked them about their experiences with the social
determinants of health - the factors that cause people to suffer poor
health in the first place.
"Many factors outside the health care system affect a person's health,
from inadequate housing to a lack of healthy food to sub-optimal early
childhood experiences," said Dr. Anna Reid, CMA president. "What
Canadians told us is that poverty is the recurring theme that underpins
most of these social determinants of health."
The CMA report included recommendations for action, again, based on what
Canadians said. However, Dr. Reid stressed that the report does not lay
"We aren't pointing fingers," she said. "We listened to Canadians and
what we heard was that they want sincere, legitimate and real action.
As a country we can do better in tackling issues around poverty,
housing, early childhood development, food security and culture that
can hinder a person's chances to be healthy. There is no one sector
responsible for making this happen. It has to be a joint effort,
involving health care providers, governments, patients and Canadians
from all backgrounds."
The Winnipeg town hall, and many comments across the country, focused on
Aboriginal health. Dr. Reid noted that poverty and education for
Aboriginal peoples, whose health outcomes fall far short compared to
the rest of the Canadian population, were among the issues discussed by
Canada's premiers at their summer meeting last week in
"As one of the panelists said, we talk about success in life in terms of
working hard and going up the ladder. With Aboriginal children, many
won't even reach the bottom rung."
Dr. Reid also said physicians have a responsibility to be proactive.
"Some people have asked me what poverty, housing and so on have to do
with physicians. While we certainly are not the experts on these areas,
we are experts in caring for our patients and we see every day how the
social determinants of health affect them."
The national dialogue was part of the CMA's ongoing efforts in
advocating for Health Care Transformation, a broad-ranging initiative
to modernize and improve Canada's health care system. The town halls
took place in Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Montreal, Charlottetown and
St. John's. Maclean's, CPAC and L'actualité were partners with the CMA
in the undertaking.
An electronic copy of What Makes us Sick can be found at http://www.cma.ca/advocacy/cma-media-centre.
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian
physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional
organization representing more than 77,000 of Canada's physicians and
comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 51
national medical organizations. CMA's mission is to serve and unite the
physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with
the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health
SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association
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