While the public health department is concerned with threats to the overall health of the community, often the biggest threats to public health revolve around factors outside the realm of health care facilities.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, spoke with South Dundas council at the May 6 meeting about health data and trends across the province, Eastern Ontario and Dundas County.
According to the stats presented, this area has higher rates of chronic disease, more smokers, and more mental health issues.
Following his presentation, South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds asked the doctor to provide council with some advice about actions council can take to help improve the health of this community.
Roumeliotis explained that the bulk of the determinants of health relate to social and economic factors, and that council needs to do all they can to remove barriers to ensure that the children of South Dundas get the best possible start in life.
Roumeliotis explained that according to the data, this area has a significant percentage of single parent families (11-12%) and the prevalence of poverty is quite high.
These factors are known to have a negative impact on childhood development, which in turn is known to lead to poorer longterm health.
“We need to concentrate on our youth by offering support to these mothers and their kids. Kids need to have the best possible start in life. That can really make a big difference,” said Roumeliotis.
“We need to recognize that the community environment translates into health, both good and bad health. You as a council help determine the health of the environment,” he said suggesting that an environment with plenty of free recreational opportunities promotes active living in a community.