By Suzanne Schwenger, Program Manager, Health Nexus
Last week was an exciting one for Health Nexus, a partner in the Prevent More to Treat Less Conference. The conference brought together people and organizations working in public health and primary care to talk about how we can work together to – as the title suggests- promote health to prevent disease. For me, one of the broad themes of the entire conference was of highlighting collaboration.
Health Nexus’ 30 year history has supported these kinds of cross-sectoral collaborations, and it is very exciting to see where initiatives from a few years ago, such as Connecting the Dots, have progressed to a whole new level of service integration in some cases.
For example, in Chatham-Kent, services are delivered seamlessly by both community health centres and public health for prenatal and early child health, oral health, sexual health and seniors falls prevention, to name a few. In Kingston, there were many examples of seamless integration of services between public health and family health teams, as well as community health centres, especially on joint initiatives to reach vulnerable populations. I was especially excited to learn that they have developed joint electronic communications in that region to reach out with one voice.
What I’m most looking forward to are province-wide joint-advocacy efforts to deliver clear communication to decision-makers about public policy efforts, such as the 25-in-5 campaign during the last election.
What I took away with me was a sense of...imagine the power if we could truly speak with one voice at a provincial and national level on issues such as harm reduction, mental health promotion, poverty, food and beverage industry regulations, gun control and a host of other issues that affect population health. I think that this strong advocacy voice will come and the relationships that are being built today will create the conditions for change.
The networking sessions were a great example of network weaving between public health and primary care...and it was exciting to hear about people meeting for the first time at the conference and already thinking about ways to collaborate.
Health Nexus will be very proud to continue to play a key role as a bridge organization linking public health and primary care and as a vehicle to take key messages to new audiences and decision-makers.