Canada's health care system needs to transform quickly to stem the rising
tide of diabetes and other chronic health conditions
LONDON, ON, March 5 /CNW/ - Canada can and must do a better job of
preventing, identifying and managing the growing prevalence of chronic
diseases, according to the Health Council of Canada's inaugural report on
The report, Why Health Care Renewal Matters: Lessons from Diabetes, looks
at what we know about the best ways to manage chronic conditions and measures
that against the way we currently treat diseases, using type 2 diabetes as a
case study. The report explores how shifting the focus of health care can have
a profound, positive impact on health outcomes and on the lives of Canadians,
while also helping ensure the sustainability of our health care system for
The report was released today at the London InterCommunity Health Centre,
whose innovative approach to screening, managing and preventing diabetes in
that city's higher-risk Latin American community is highlighted in the report
alongside other encouraging chronic disease management initiatives across the
"The way we provide health care today leaves too many people vulnerable
to serious health problems that could be avoided," said Dr. Ian Bowmer, Vice
Chair of the Health Council of Canada. "If we don't support prevention and
change the way we deliver care for chronic health conditions, we are not
optimizing care and are putting the quality of life of Canadians at risk."
The Health Council examined research on diabetes care in Canada and
around the world and concluded that we need to adopt new and better ways of
delivering care, including the use of health care teams; comprehensive
electronic patient records; and setting targets to improve the quality of
care. We need to provide better care to high-risk populations, including First
Nations people, low-income Canadians and people who belong to particular
ethnic groups. And we need to coordinate sustained action on prevention.
Less than half of people with diabetes get the lab tests and procedures
that experts recommend - tests that are important to help prevent serious
complications. In places where people with diabetes receive care focused on
preventing complications, these people are healthier, spend less time in
hospital, and, ultimately, use less expensive health care.
The Health Council believes that Canada's health care system needs to
move past the traditional "find it and fix it" approach that emphasizes
short-term health care, towards a more sustainable "prevent it, find it,
manage it" approach that integrates high quality health care and prevention.
One in three Canadians have a chronic health condition, and type 2
diabetes affects at least 1.3 million Canadians, plus hundreds of thousands
more are unaware that they have the condition. Type 2 diabetes is also a
largely preventable disease that is becoming increasingly prevalent among
children and adults throughout the country, because of changes in eating and
exercise habits that increase the risk of developing this disease.
Three-quarters of the people who live with diabetes also have other
chronic health conditions, the Health Council found. Many suffer the serious
complications typical of diabetes, such as heart disease, kidney damage,
depression, loss of vision, and poor circulation which can lead to
amputations. But with the right kind of health care, these health problems -
which reduce the quality of life for people with diabetes and drive up the
cost of their health care - can be forestalled or prevented, the report
Screening programs and community initiatives to help people better manage
diet and lifestyle choices can have a major impact on preventing or delaying
the onset of disease, but we need to take action now, to stem the rising tide
of diabetes and related chronic health conditions.
"The lesson is clear. People with diabetes will need less intensive, less
expensive, health care in the future, if they get the right care now." said
Dr. Stanley Vollant, a Councillor with the Health Council of Canada. "The way
we provide care now is piecemeal and out of date. By changing how the health
system works, we can improve the well-being of Canadians and make the health
care system more sustainable. Canada can do better."
"It took a generation of hard work to see a real reduction in the number
of Canadians who smoke," said Dr. Bowmer. "We have to do the same for healthy
eating and exercise to prevent chronic health conditions like diabetes. But we
have to do it faster."
In conjunction with the release of the report, the Health Council is
launching a public consultation project, to hear the views of Canadians on
today's report. Online consultation begins today and runs to April 15 on the
Council's website, www.healthcouncilcanada.ca. In-person roundtables will also
be held in Thunder Bay, Halifax, and Vancouver. The Council will share the
results of these consultations through a public report and will integrate
insights from this project in its future research on health outcomes.
The full report on health outcomes, backgrounders and other material can
be downloaded at www.healthcouncilcanada.ca.
The Health Council of Canada Wants to Hear from Canadians
Online consultation launches today; focus on diabetes and other chronic
The Health Council of Canada wants to hear what Canadians affected by
diabetes and other chronic health conditions have to say about health care.
The Council invites all Canadians to comment by visiting the Health Council's
website, www.healthcouncilcanada.ca, from now until April 15, 2007.
The Health Council is also releasing its report, Why Health Care Renewal
Matters: Lessons from Diabetes, today in London, Ontario. This report is the
first in a series on health outcomes which assess how quality of health care
affects people's health.
"With all of our reports, we attempt to give the human perspective
alongside the evidence by indicating how health care reform is affecting
Canadians. By hearing directly from Canadians about their experiences and
priorities, we hope to gain and share a broader understanding of what they say
is working and what needs to change in our health care system," said Jeanne
Besner, Chair of the Health Council of Canada.
All Canadians are invited to participate in the online consultation at
the Health Council's website, www.healthcouncilcanada.ca. Individual
participation is confidential and takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes. People
are asked to respond to a set of choices on health care priorities and are
welcome to share their ideas and personal stories.
"We hope to hear from a wide cross-section of Canadian society. Whether
you are someone who has diabetes or another chronic health condition, related
to someone affected, a health care professional, or just an interested
Canadian, the Health Council welcomes your contribution," added Besner.
The Health Council's project also includes a series of face-to-face
discussions with people who have diabetes or have a family member with the
disease. Assisted by the Canadian Diabetes Association, roundtables are taking
place in Thunder Bay, Halifax and Vancouver.
The Health Council will share the results of these consultations through
a public report and will integrate insights from this project into future
About Health Council of Canada
The Health Council of Canada, created by the 2003 First Ministers' Accord
on Health Care Renewal following the recommendations of the Romanow and Kirby
reports, is mandated to monitor and report on the progress of health care
renewal in Canada. The 26 Councillors were appointed by the participating
provinces, territories, and the Government of Canada and have expertise and
broad experience in community care, Aboriginal health, nursing, health
education and administration, finance, medicine and pharmacy.
For further information:
For further information: Nazia Khan, Temple Scott Associates, W: (416)
360-6183 ext. 229, Nazia@tsa.ca; Paul Cantin, Health Council of Canada, W:
(416) 480-7085, C: (416) 526-1593, firstname.lastname@example.org