Society has focused on treating acute health problems after they arise, and failed to place sufficient priority on preventing illness in the first place.
The World Health Organization defines health as “a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Our present health care system addresses only one dimension – the treatment of disease and/or trauma by qualified professionals in publicly funded medical facilities.
Hundreds of chemicals used in our everyday lives carry risks of increased cancer, infertility, learning disabilities and other intellectual impairment, and damage to the immune system. Despite rising cancer rates, the federal government hasn’t done enough to ensure that potentially carcinogenic environmental factors are eliminated. There are less toxic substitutes for these products, but industry pressure to maintain their registration and legal use drowns out the voices of concerned health professionals and families concerned about health.
We should remove from use chemicals known to significantly increase the risk of human cancer, immuno-suppression, endocrine disruption, neuro-toxicity and/or mutagenicity.
We can enhance population health through active living – promotion of walking, cycling and being fit. As well, as was done in New Zealand when the Green Party was in a coalition government, provide funds to expand provincial health insurance to cover proven alternative therapies that are less expensive and invasive such as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture. For healthy pre-natal care, we can improve access to midwifery services across Canada.
Healthy food choices and healthy local, organic foods are also part of improving the health of Canadians. The time bomb for health care costs of young people and children who consume a diet of processed and high calorie foods is a problem we can avoid through adopting healthier diets.