By: Saije Rusimovici, Staff Writer
The Canadian healthcare system is struggling. Hospital overcrowding has been a huge issue, creating difficult working conditions for nurses and hospital staff. Physicians are having trouble seeing patients, and Canadian healthcare has been critiqued as “reactive.”
Preventative care — which includes encouraging vaccination, providing early education on health and nutrition, and offering resources to vulnerable older adults — is one way to take the load off this crisis.
Preventative care doesn’t just stop at vaccination and healthy living. The independent Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care offers an A–Z list breaking down strategies for care. These measures are aimed at combating the onset of a range of illnesses, from depression to cancer.
Preventative care doesn’t just apply to illness prevention though — it also includes proper management of long-term conditions. This can reduce the risk of serious complications or disease progression.
Types of preventative care can vary from medical intervention to educational services. Regular doctor visits, blood pressure tests, cancer screenings, and vaccines all are types of preventative care according to the American Human Health Services. However, preventative care isn’t a cure-all. According to a 2022 study, relying solely on an in-hospital preventative care model, while continuing to care for chronic and acute illnesses, risks overwhelming doctors. So, we need to extend preventative care beyond routine medical tests; it needs to become a personal habit.
To make preventative healthcare a regular personal practice for Canadians, we need better education on maintaining physical and mental wellness. Fraser Health provides a comprehensive list of resources for teachers and administrators that focus on physical health, nutrition, exercise, substance use, sexual health, and mental health and wellness. These are essential practices that should be incorporated into school curriculum at every level. This type of education would not only give students the opportunity to learn more about health and wellness, but work towards creating healthy habits to prevent future medical issues.
Now, while preventative healthcare is necessary, it is important to note that not all health issues can be prevented. Some people are born with disabilities, while others acquire disabilities later in life.
Moving forward, it is essential that Canadian medical system reforms include better access to resources, equipment, and support for those living with disabilities. They also face barriers accessing preventative care due to accessibility issues. For this reason, it is also critical to work towards making sure preventative care measures are taken more seriously to address the needs of disabled people who require access.
Embracing preventative care in hospitals and education must be done in concert with other medical reforms. There’s no question that keeping Canadians out of the hospital through better living will help ease the load on the healthcare system. But it’s a long-term solution. Our medical personnel need to be given the tools to succeed in the here and now. That means building additional capacity in our hospitals, providing staff with the resources they need to care for the sick, and, yes, paying them more.
Preventative care must become an essential component of the Canadian medical system as a cost-effective way to improve life expectancy and keep more people out of hospitals. Beginning at the elementary school level, education on preventative health strategies should be brought to schools across Canada and integrated into the curriculum. This isn’t just about reforming the Canadian medical system, but a plan that must be embraced at the individual, social, and governmental levels.