British Columbia tops the health charts

NEWS HEALTHB.C. ranks third in the world for health performance behind only Switzerland and Sweden, and is ranked the number one province in Canada, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s report card on health released Thursday.

British Columbia was also the only province in the country to receive an A score overall.

“This ranking reflects the high priority government places on the health and quality of life of British Columbians,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “We have achieved this ranking while maintaining among the lowest per capita health-care spending. This recognition is not a reason for us to slow down our work or settle for the status quo, but rather an opportunity to build on our successes.”

British Columbians have a life expectancy of 82.2 years, which ranks among the longest in the world. Out of 11 report card indicators used to measure health performance, B.C. scored four A grades in life expectancy; premature mortality; self-reported health status; and mortality due to cancer. Six B grades were scored in infant mortality; mortality due to heart disease and stroke; self-reported mental health; mortality due to respiratory disease; mortality due to diseases of the nervous system; and suicides.

High grades in life expectancy, premature mortality and infant mortality reflect not only the health of individuals, but also that of B.C.’s overall health system and the socio-economic health and well-being of the province. In particular, infant mortality rates are cited by many health experts as a “sentinel indicator of population health and the well-being of a society.”

“B.C. has a fundamentally different approach to providing health care than some other provinces, and other countries, in that government and doctors work closely as partners to benefit patient care,” said Dr. Bill Cavers, president of Doctors of BC.  “More than a decade ago, B.C. doctors and government invested in a collaborative approach on issues of concern to patients, the doctors who provide the care, and the health-care system that makes it all happen, and it is gratifying to see this investment contributing to such positive results. We look forward to continuing this collaboration.”

The lowest grade B.C. received was a single C in mortality due to diabetes, and yet B.C. has the lowest diabetes prevalence rate in Canada.

The report also indicates British Columbians have such high health outcomes because of their healthier lifestyle choices, such as particularly low daily smoking and drinking rates and the highest population percentage that is physically active during their leisure time, along with the lowest obesity rate in Canada.

“The BC Healthy Living Alliance is pleased to see the health of British Columbians ranked so highly among other provinces and countries,” said Mary Collins, director of the BC Healthy Living Alliance Secretariat. “Certainly the active role that the Government of B.C. has taken, whether with ActNowBC or more recently Healthy Families BC, has been instrumental in moving British Columbians to healthier lifestyles and better health. However, we don’t want to be complacent.  As the Conference Board of Canada report points out, rising rates of chronic diseases necessitate a continued focus on disease prevention and health promotion.”

“Significant promotion of a healthy lifestyle through our Health Families BC strategy has resulted in not only maintaining and improving the health of individuals, but also in slowing the rise of chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease and cancer,” added Lake. “We continue to build on this work with a renewed focus on a patient-centred, high-performing and sustainable health-care system, as outlined in ‘Setting Priorities for the B.C. Health System.’ Setting Priories has become the health ministry’s road map to support the health and well-being of British Columbians with a health-care system that is responsive and effective.”

In ”How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada,” The Conference Board evaluates the country, its provinces and territories, and 15 peer countries to provide an assessment on how well Canada is meeting its goal of creating a high and sustainable quality of life for all Canadians. Health is one of six performance areas reviewed; others include economy, education and the environment.