Thunder Bay

Northwestern Health Unit's new campaign looks at factors influencing health

Officials at the Northwestern Health Unit are launching a new campaign to "increase awareness and understanding of the social factors that influence health," such as income, education and housing.

Health Equity Matters is a two-year campaign

Officials at the Northwestern Health Unit are launching a two-year campaign to increase awareness and understanding of the social determinants that influence health. (Jon Begg / NWHU)

Officials at the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) are launching a new campaign to "increase awareness and understanding of the social factors that influence health," such as income, education and housing.

"I think generally people think about things like how much I weight, what illnesses run in my family and can I get to see my family doctor or go to the hospital," said Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, the medical officer of health at the Northwestern Health Unit, "approximately 50 per cent of health is determined by social and economic factors ... such as income, housing, education, access to affordable healthy food, social acceptance and early childhood experiences."

She said the two-year Health Equity Matters campaign will highlight why health equity is a public issue that everyone should care about as it affects our community.

"What we are seeing right now is that the healthcare system is under a lot of stress and there are more ill people than the healthcare system is currently able to deal with," Kit explained, "and in order for us to be able to access health care when we need it, we generally need to improve the health of the entire population."

Dr. Kit Yoon-Hoon, the medical officer of health at the Northwestern Health Unit, said social determinants such as income, education, housing and childhood experience are all factors that influence health. (Jon Begg / NWHU)

A key way of improving the health of the entire population in northwestern Ontario is by addressing the economic determinants that influence health, she said.

"If we don't do that then the healthcare system would become increasingly burdened or increasingly costly and that has an impact on the rest of us."

She recommends that "members of the public" understand the influences that determine health and "voice their concerns" to their MPP or MP.