The Northwestern Health Unit has released its annual public health report card, which compares health behaviours and death-rates in the district to those across the province, as well as health equity, community engagement, and more.

When it comes to health behaviours, the health unit reports that northwestern Ontario has a higher percentage of cigarette smokers and heavy drinkers, compared to the provincial norm. Fruit and vegetable consumption is in-line with the rest of the province, and residents do more physical activity than average.

When looking at leading causes of death, cancer rates across the board are higher than the provincial average. Northwestern Ontario also has close to double the accidental-death rate for Ontario, and triple the intentional self-harm rate.

Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, the medical officer of health for northwestern Ontario, said that the most recent report card is focusing on two central themes: health equity and community engagement.

In the report, Young-Hoon says “It is estimated that about 50 per cent of health is determined by economic and social environments. Factors such as income, education, employment, housing, access to affordable healthy foods, social inclusion, gender and race have far reaching impacts on health.”

The balanced scorecard within the report looks at health unit progress on eight different issues including: improved awareness of programs and services; increasing priority population input into health unit planning; and, strengthening partnerships and collaboration.

“We need a game changer. Our exhausted health care system can only continue at this rate for so long. By helping those who are most disadvantaged we create a society that can be sustainable and healthy for all,” Young-Hoon added.

The report also features four pages of program highlights which draw attention to the number of interactions many of the health unit programs have with the general public in person, through presentations or through the use of social media.

Some of the highlights include:
- The Family Health team had 8,833 interactions with families including 1,737 home visits
- Facebook posts about tick ID cards reached 12,417 people
- Almost 900 children received infant hearing screens from the Speech, Hearing and Vision team 
- The Dental Program provided preventative services to 5,146 children 
- The Environmental Health team carried out over 1,100 food safety inspections 

For more information:
2017 Public Health Report Card

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