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Through this Declaration on Prevention and Promotion, we [the Ministers of Health and of Health Promotion/Healthy Living of Canada] express our view that the promotion of health and the prevention of disease, disability and injury are a priority and necessary to the sustainability of the health system.
We collectively declare our vision for a Canada in which governments work together and with private, non-profit, municipal, academic and community sectors, and with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, to improve health and reduce health disparities and to build and influence the physical, social and economic conditions that will promote health and wellness, and prevent illness so that Canadians can enjoy good health for years to come.
We agree that:
We recognize that:
In October 2005, Canada’s Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health agreed that:
As a nation, we aspire to a Canada in which every person is as healthy as they can be-physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
At that time, Ministers of Health also agreed to a plan, called the Integrated Pan-Canadian
Healthy Living Strategy, which defines a healthy nation as one
“in which all Canadians experience the conditions that support the attainment of good health.” The strategy identifies two goals: improved overall health and reduced health disparities.
This Declaration reflects the important role that health promotion and disease and injury prevention play in improving the health of Canadians. By working together to support prevention and promotion within and outside the health-care system, the health and well-being of all Canadians will benefit.
More emphasis needs to be placed on the promotion of health and on preventing or delaying chronic diseases, disabilities, and injuries. Doing this will improve the quality of life of Canadians while reducing disparities in health and the impact these conditions have on individuals, families, communities, the health-care system and on society.
Canadians expect to receive high-quality, accessible and comprehensive health care when they are ill. They also value effective prevention and promotion services and supports that enable them to stay healthy.
The following five principles have and will continue to guide our efforts to strengthen and support prevention and promotion in Canada and its provinces and territories.
Canadians value their health. They prefer to live a long life in good health while preventing disease or injury, rather than experiencing severe illness and the pain, suffering and loss of income that they can cause; they also want to avoid premature death. Promoting good health just makes sense.
While we have the means to prevent or delay many health problems, Canada’s current health system is mainly focused on diagnosis, treatment and care. To create healthier populations, and to sustain our publicly funded health system, a better balance between prevention and treatment must be achieved.
Internationally, health promotion and prevention are recognized as essential pieces of high-quality health systems. Through this Declaration, Canada is showing leadership in making prevention and promotion a priority.
Many Canadians will develop and have to live with chronic diseases or disabilities. By encouraging healthier living and promoting preventive health services, we can help Canadians living with these conditions to maintain or improve their health and prevent the development of additional chronic diseases.
The overall health of Canadians can be improved, and many health problems can be prevented. This can be done by:
In an ideal situation, all of these strategies would be used together.
How an issue is approached should be based on the knowledge of the approach’s effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and on the characteristics of the community or group involved.
While it is clear that health services are a determinant of health, they are just one among many. Others include: environmental, social and economic conditions; access to education; the quality of the places where people live, learn, work and play; and community resilience and capacity.
Because many of these determinants of health lie outside the reach of the health sector, many of the actions to improve health also lie outside the health sector, both within and beyond government.
This means that many government departments and a wide range of people and organizations in communities and across society play a role in creating the conditions for good health that support individuals in adopting healthy lifestyles.
Promoting health and preventing diseases is everyone’s business-individual Canadians, all levels of government, communities, researchers, the non-profit sector and the private sector each have a role to play.
It should be noted that although Quebec shares the general goals of this Declaration, it was not involved in developing it and does not subscribe to a Canada-wide strategy in this area. Quebec intends to remain solely responsible for developing and implementing programs for promoting healthy living within its territory. However, Quebec does intend to continue exchanging information and expertise with other governments in Canada.