Saskatoon – The third in a series of Better Health for All online reports released today by Saskatoon Health Region takes an in depth look at health equity by examining the differences and trends in health between people in our Region over a 15 year time span.
"Not everyone has the same opportunity to live a long, healthy life. This data demonstrates that while health is improving for some it is not improving for all. Some people are disadvantaged from being healthy because of income, education, housing, race, age, disability and other socially determined circumstances." says Saskatoon Health Region's Chief Medical Health Officer Cory Neudorf.
Using a deprivation index, a measure comprising data relating to education, income, employment, etc., the report compares the health conditions of people over a 15 year time-span across five areas of Saskatoon, each containing about 20 per cent of the city's population. The report shows:
- Life expectancy has increased for some of our population but has remained unchanged for others. On average, those living in areas of highest deprivation live about nine years fewer than those living in areas of lowest deprivation.
- Fewer people are being hospitalized for cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, heart disease, mental illness, injury, and intentional self-harm. However, more people are being hospitalized for diabetes than ever before.
- On average, people living in areas of highest deprivation have higher rates of hospitalization and physician visits.
- The gap in health between those in the areas of highest and lowest deprivation is large and has persisted for many years.
While the factors that determine health lie largely outside the health system, the report focuses on what health care providers and decision makers can do to remove barriers to achieving health equity within the health care system itself. Gaps in immunization rates, for example, have narrowed over time due to a targeted approach to reach Saskatoon's most vulnerable residents.
"While we have made many health-care advances, this sobering data shows there is much more work to do to achieve better health for all," says Neudorf. "Taking a more targeted, intentional and focused approach within health care to close gaps in health equity has shown promise and can make a difference. We need to be intentional about creating a culture of fairness."
The report includes several recommendations to help make health-care services more accessible, available and acceptable along with a list of 13 ways to improve health equity on a daily basis. A "Health Care Equity Audit Guide," included with the report, has been produced to help decision makers both within and outside of health-care improve health equity.
The report is summarized on www.communityview.ca. In the coming months, Saskatoon Health Region will release additional online reports in our Better Health for All Series.
Download the report.
NOTE: Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Cory Neudorf will be available for comment immediately following the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority public meeting, at approximately 2:00 p.m., Saskatoon City Hospital Boardroom, 2nd Floor Administration.
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