The provincial health officer says, overall, the health of British Columbians is good, but there are several areas where we could do better.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said there were improvements in the incidence of diabetes, mortality due to preventable causes, smoking during pregnancy and the incidence of hepatitis C.

She said injuries are still the leading cause of death and hospitalization in B.C.

“Falls, particularly in the elderly, overdoses, especially in young men and the third major area is motor vehicle crashes.”

She said there are regional disparities, for example, motor vehicle accidents are more likely to happen in rural areas.

Henry said other areas of concern are surrounding early childhood development and hazardous drinking behaviours.

“One of the things that I worry about is hazardous drinking, so binge drinking has gone up in young women and men of reproductive age.”

She said for the first time in 30 years life expectancy in B.C. has fallen by 3 months.

Henry said more targeted health prevention and promotion programs will help close the gaps and reverse worsening trends and she’s released seven recommendations as a starting point.

She is offering seven recommendations:

1. Establish a legislated health in all policies approach in B.C., using a health impact assessment model that includes a requirement for assessing health and equity impacts for all proposed, new or revised policy, legislation or programming across the B.C. government.

2. Develop and implement a comprehensive health-promotion strategy that recognizes sex- and gender-specific health needs, and supports all gender identities and sexual orientations through appropriately targeted interventions.

3. Increase support for government programs and policies across government that focus on health among women (including pregnant and post-partum women), children, youth and families.

4. Increase the focus on illness and injury prevention, as well as health promotion, for people living in rural and remote areas.

5. Develop a more robust and meaningful population health and public health surveillance system. This includes reviewing the performance measures in BC’s Guiding Framework for Public Health, identifying new or revised measures, and establishing regular and ongoing public health reporting.

6. Establish more relevant and applicable performance measures to monitor environmental health. This includes establishing and/or further developing mechanisms to monitor air, water, soil and food supplies, as well as the health impacts of climate change.

7. Commit to increasing the proportion of health authority budgets allocated to population and public health to 6%.