On Tuesday evening, Claire Audet and Jeff Conners from Interior Health were in Merritt to present to Council their healthy communities initiative.
“Within our team we have healthy community facilitators, environmental health officers, dietitians, tobacco reduction officers and tobacco enforcement officers and we try to work all together when we come and work with local governments,” said Audet.
The presentation spoke to a wide-ranging group factors and challenges that can lead to one’s good or poor health.
“Seventy-five percent of what influences your health is outside the healthcare system and 60 percent of it is actually influenced by your community,” said Audet.
They also spoke to one in five children living in poverty, the effect of people driving everywhere and not walking, along with mental health and housing being major factors in health of those across the region.
“The challenges we face on a day to day basis with healthy communities is that fact that one out of three people live with chronic disease. They’re the ones who take up most of our health care dollars, they may be 35 percent of the population, but they take 85 percent of our dollars. So, it would be really nice if we could help them be healthy within their communities which we know is really easily done,” said Audet.
With a full-scale review of Merritt's official community plan (OCP) in the works for later this summer, it was mentioned how they can take part in the planning.
“What we want to bring to the official community plans is health wording. So, it actually gives you the capability to look at it in the future, to actually incorporate it into your transportation, your housing, all the various components on your official community plan, and then create some bylaws in the future,” said Audet. “We try to work with whoever you consult with and we’ll sit down and provide them with healthy community initiatives. Try to inject health wording so you can expand the OCP to include it.”
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