The overall health of most British Columbians is great, according to a report released by the Ministry of Health today.

“The report shows that overall, British Columbians’ health is good by many accepted measures,” reads the report.

The ministry cites a decrease in diabetes diagnoses, mortality due to preventable causes, smoking during pregnancy, incidences of hepatitis C, and other factors since January 2018 as key reasons why health and wellness is improving in BC.

BUT we do still drink too much.

“The impacts of increased alcohol consumption and of the opioid overdose crisis were two areas of challenge identified in the development of this report,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer and author of the report in a release.

Room for improvement

While the average British Columbians’ health is receiving top marks, Henry says there’s still plenty of room for improvement, especially when comparing different genders and communities in the province.

“We have made important progress in many areas of health in recent years,” said Henry.

“However, not all British Columbians are experiencing these improvements, and there remain important differences in health status based on region of the province, between sexes and by age.”

The report points to four particular areas of health that have been declining:

  • The disparities in life expectancy between rural and urban communities.
  • Consumption of fruit and vegetables.
  • Early childhood development.
  • “Hazardous” drinking behaviours.

Henry says that targeted health awareness programs could help reverse these concerning trends, and that other social and economic initiatives could teach children the importance of personal health as they develop.

To help reverse the negative health trends, the Ministry is recommending seven different steps:

  • Legislate a policy approach that includes health and impact of health in all proposed, new, or revised policies in all provincial government legislations.
  • Redevelop a comprehensive health-promotion strategy that recognizes sex-and gender-specific healthcare needs.
  • Increase support for government programs that focus on the health of women, children, youth, and families.
  • Increase health promotion and education for people living in rural communities.
  • Develop a more robust and meaningful public health surveillance system that can collect data to help inform new or revised policies.
  • Create more advanced environmental health monitoring systems to examine air, water, soil, food supplies, and health impacts of climate change.
  • Increase the health authority budget allocation to public health to 6%.

“Collaborations across all levels of government, health authorities and other health partners will be key to achieving our goal of a healthier BC,” said Henry.

Data for the report was collected from a number of provincial and federal government databases, including the Discharge Abstract Database, Chronic Disease Registry, and Vital Statistics Agency.