Health: our greatest asset
cent of premature morality from chronic diseases is due from common habits such as tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, unhealthy eating and physical inactivity.
We currently spend 90 per cent of our health care system’s budget dealing with the costs of diseases from unhealthy habits yet the Department of Health Promotion and Protection only receives less than one per cent of the government’s budget.
The Government of Nova Scotia has taken important steps in the last number of years to address physical inactivity levels in the province: including committing resources to helping children and youth become more active and preparing for the development of a physical activity framework. However, an investment of appropriate resources to support a comprehensive province-wide physical activity strategy for all ages is a critical next step to securing a healthy and balanced province in the future.
In May of 2009, the Nova Scotia Alliance for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity, of which the Heart and Stroke Foundation is a member, developed a report The Case for a Comprehensive Provincial Physical Activity Strategy demonstrating the physical, mental and economic benefits of physical activity. The report provides examples of effective interventions to achieving results in the short and long term. The cost to support such a strategy - $5 million. This investment is not small. However, neither is the scale of the problem with which we face as a province nor is the accruing costs of not taking action today.
If we are to truly get back to balance in Nova Scotia, an investment in Nova Scotia’s health through physical activity and prevention is critical for addressing our current and future health and fiscal challenges.
The farther off course we allow ourselves to go in addressing our health needs, the more difficult balancing the budget will become. We need to ensure that a vital part of any decision made regarding our financial future includes a focus on strategies to secure better health - our greatest asset.