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The impact of the social determinants of health is well known to governments and to health care organizations. The major challenge before us lies in turning this understanding into concrete actions that have an impact on individual Canadians and communities.
Hon. Roy J. Romanow, former Saskatchewan Premier, from the foreword
Drawing on his experiences as a family physician in the inner city of Saskatoon, Mozambique, and rural Saskatchewan, Dr. Meili argues that health delivery too often focuses on treatment of immediate causes and ignores more fundamental conditions that lead to poor health. Income, education, employment, housing, the wider environment, and social supports: far more than the actions of physicians, nurses, and other health care providers, it is these conditions that make the greatest difference in our health. Brought to life by patient stories, A Healthy Society explores a number of specific health determinants, and ends in a discussion of democratic reforms that could help reshape the way we organize ourselves to create a truly healthy society.
Through a mix of scholarship and story, the author proposes a new approach to politics. The use of human health as a measure of our success as a society, and the application of the ideas of the social determinants of health to public policy, appeals beyond political lines to common values. By synthesizing diverse ideas into a plan for action based in the lived experiences of practitioners and patients, A Healthy Society breaks important ground in the renewal of politics toward the goal of better lives for all Canadians.
Ryan Meili is a family doctor at the West Side Community Clinic in Saskatoon and head of the Division of Social Accountability at the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.
We know it in our hearts: poor health is intimately linked to poverty, abuse, and lack of social services. Yet in all these areas, Canada is marching steadily backward. In A Healthy Society, Ryan Meili, a practicing doctor who knows this first hand, sounds a clarion call to all Canadians. We will not have a healthy society until we put social justice and universal social security for all back at the top of our political agenda.
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians.