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Home > What's New > Untapped Opportunity for Health in the City of Greater Sudbury

Untapped Opportunity for Health in the City of Greater Sudbury

Untapped Opportunity for Health in the City of Greater Sudbury

Thursday, May 16, 3013

An analysis by the Sudbury & District Health Unit reveals important untapped opportunity for health in the City of Greater Sudbury. A recent first-for-Sudbury study found significant differences in health for those living in the City’s most deprived areas compared with its least deprived areas.

The findings are contained in a report, Opportunity for All: The Path to Health Equity, released at today’s Sudbury & District Board of Health meeting.

The differences between the most deprived and the least deprived areas of the City are startling. Some of the most dramatic differences include:

  • a rate of emergency department visits that is 3.9 times higher for mental health episodes
  • an infant mortality rate that is 2.4 times higher
  • an obesity rate that is twice as high

“Clearly, not everyone has the same opportunity for health, but this can and needs to be changed,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Sudbury & District Medical Officer of Health. “There is untapped health opportunity in our community, and we all—citizens, businesses, public agencies, governments—need to take stock and ask ourselves the hard questions about whether the health differences are acceptable and what we are willing to do to reduce them.”

The report calculates “health opportunity”, noting for example, that if all Sudburians experienced the same health as those in the least deprived areas, there would be:

  • 14 077 fewer emergency department visits per year
  • 1 783 fewer hospitalizations per year
  • 9 706 more people who rate their health as excellent or very good

And, perhaps most striking, there would be one less infant who dies each year.

The Health Unit says that the health differences it found are not inevitable. “This community has come together on many issues: I can easily think of the excellent work in the child sector, social planning, and policing right off the top,” said Dr. Sutcliffe. “There is every reason to believe that we care, that we think health differences based on social and economic status are not acceptable, and that together we can find solutions.”

“The Health Unit had a meeting with many of us in December 2012 to ask us to help interpret its early findings,” said Greater Sudbury Police Services Chief, Frank Elsner. “We were all there—social planning, mental health, child care, education, the municipality, and many others—and we all said that this City is resilient. We have all worked hard over the years to reduce the risks for the most vulnerable in our community, and together we can do even more.”

The Health Unit’s analysis used a tool called the Deprivation Index to group areas of the City of Greater Sudbury according to their social and economic characteristics. It then looked at different health outcomes to see if there were differences depending on how “deprived” an area was. Similar results have been reported around the world and across Canada, but this is the first time that such an analysis has been done for Greater Sudbury.

The report, Opportunity for All: The Path to Health Equity, is available at www.sdhu.com. The site also provides information about existing Sudbury & District Health Unit and community efforts to create Opportunity for All.

Highlights: Opportunity for All: The Path to Health Equity

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