One of the most important themes in the life and well – being of a community, is how collectively our health is. As a community, we seek to live, work and play in harmony, but we also need to learn and understand what it is that would make us stronger individually, and by extension, as a community. Algoma Public Health is the framework that seeks to understand how our geographic district merits against provincial averages for overall health and well being. A report released today gives us a comprehensive review of where we are as a community as it relates to the big picture of cancer.
How did Algoma fair by the numbers? Well… Algoma continues to be on the higher end for statistically becoming diagnosed with four types of cancer.1)Lung & Bronchus 2) Urinary & Bladder 3) Kidney & Renal 4)Esophageal. Further to this, the report released today shares that “in the ten year span from 2000 – 2009, there were 7,534 newly diagnosed cases of cancer.” Jordan Robson, Epidemiologist with Algoma Public Health further stated that “when researching cancer data, there is an understanding that it is complex to analyze the numbers.” Several variables, which act like links in a chain, create the need for a ‘confidence interval’. Confidence intervals consist of a range of values (interval) that act as good estimates of the unknown population parameter.
Certain factors may affect the confidence interval size including size of sample, level of confidence, and population variability. A larger sample size normally will lead to a better estimate of the population parameter. Epidemiology is the study and control of disease or injury patterns in human populations. Epidemiologists do fieldwork to determine what causes disease or injury, what the risks are, who is at risk and how to prevent further incidences. Sounds groovy.
“Everyone can and should minimize their risk of cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices and becoming aware of possible routes of exposure through their workplaces, their homes and environment.” shared APH’s Laurie Zeppa. “This report is quite extensive, and will focus on how to move a community to action” Laurie Zeppa further shared that “residents of the Algoma District can and must become more actively engaged in their own risk-reduction programme.” We need to make ‘healthy lifestyle ahead’, our personal and community mantra … a priority in our everyday life. Some concrete examples of food related choices can be found in everyone’s favourite food tool, The Canada Food Guide. Further, we need to take part in cancer screenings that are offered through our health networks. As a minimum, we should all be doing 150 minutes per week of activity directed intentionally and purposefully towards exercise.
Community-based partnerships can also improve access to health information and support healthier lifestyles. Laurie spoke briefly about “The Ottawa Charter” which was born out of a World Health Organization (WHO) conference in Ottawa, Ontario Canada, as a response to growing concerns & expectations for a new public health movement around the world. It was the first International Conference on Health Promotion, and took place on 21 November 1986. The link below will take you to the W.H.O. website and more information about “The Ottawa Charter”. http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/previous/ottawa/en/
Michelle Luckhardt, Algoma Public Health, shared a vision for our communities in the District of Algoma that we become empowered towards healthy lifestyle choices.. “If you smoke… start cutting down on the amount, and eventually this can lead to quitting the tobacco habit.” If you are sedentary as a rule, start walking a bit more. While this report doesn’t take into consideration poverty as a specific risk factor, Michelle Luckhardt acknowledges the specific challenges that working poor, and folks living in poverty can face when it comes to accessing healthy food choices. Michelle spoke about community partnerships & collaborations as a way to build a healthier community, including presentations at local food banks and soup kitchens. Michelle further shared that Algoma Public Health is a great place to start when wanting information and guidance on creating a healthy lifestyle.
Throughout the District of Algoma, we are blessed with some of the most beautiful spaces and places in all of Canada, possibly the world. Make a plan to go and take in some of the great outdoors, and just walk for a while. Let’s get moving and become a model for our children, our grandchildren, and strive for a collective healthy place to live..to work.. and to play.
For a comprehensive look at APH’s report to the community on Cancer in the District of Algoma, follow this link. http://www.algomapublichealth.com/ReportsAndNewsletters.aspx?l=,1,2,6