Health is everyone's responsibility

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By Leo Glavine
Recently, I've made some strong statements about the need for Nova Scotians to take better care of their own health. I'd like to take this opportunity to emphasize my point, which is simply this: everyone is responsible for good health in this province.

Nova Scotians have an important role to play in achieving a healthy population, with support from all levels of government, public institutions including schools, health care facilities, and community health boards, and a wide variety of community organizations.

Our province has the highest rates of chronic disease in the country, many of them preventable. Not only does that take a toll on the health care system, it also affects our economy and our quality of life. Every one of us needs to take the action we're capable of to turn this tide.

It would be much easier if we were all on a level playing field. I recognize that the social determinants of health are a complex web of social, financial and other factors that greatly influence a person's ability to maintain optimal health. It is far easier for some of us to buy healthy food, engage in physical activity, and take other steps toward good health than others.

That's why the province continues to support Thrive! a plan for a healthier Nova Scotia. This plan is about changing the way we live. It directs our policy work in government, and encourages municipalities and other organizations to take a similar approach. Ultimately, we need to change our environments where we live, work, learn, play and commute to support healthy eating and physical activity.

The launch of Nourish Nova Scotia last November is an excellent example of this policy shift we're working on. Our government agreed to this new, sustainable model where a charitable organization manages provincial funding for school breakfast programs, and hopefully more nutrition programs in the future. Regardless of family income, children and youth can get a healthy breakfast to fuel their day of learning.

This is just one of many changes we are making to support Nova Scotians to take better care of their health. There are many more in progress that will help us achieve our long-term goals for healthier Nova Scotians.

All the action being taken by governments and community groups is still not enough to ensure we have a healthy population. Good health cannot be given to you. Individuals must take responsibility as well. At the end of the day, all Nova Scotians need to do the best they can with what they've got, including our support, to lead a healthy lifestyle.

 

Leo Glavine is Nova Scotia’s Health and Wellness Minister.

Geographic location: Nova Scotians, Nova Scotia

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