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How healthy are New Brunswickers?

February 22, 2012
Moncton, NB (NBHC) - The New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC) is releasing its third Population Health Snapshot. This Snapshot seeks to inform citizens, communities, and organizations about their health status with respect to the population in which they live. The information is available on one page and presented in language that is easy to read and understand.
The Snapshots for the province and each of the seven zones have been updated with the most recent information available; for each zone, some areas of health determinants which can be influenced or improved upon to have a positive effect on someone’s health have been highlighted. This year, the Snapshot has been enhanced with new sections for every zone that shows a demographic profile and presents the prevalence rates of chronic diseases and the top 10 hospital admissions for that specific zone. Wellness Networks and Socials Inclusion Networks contact information for each zone is also available on the Snapshot.
Overall, this year’s Snapshot shows that there are improvements in the province when it comes to access to a regular doctor, due to an increase in the number of doctors. We are also seeing improvements in screening or prevention tests. However, these improvements do not affect population health much when we look at life expectancy and quality of life. The rate of high blood pressure and heart diseases in New Brunswick have a major impact on the number of hospital admissions, both being in the top 10 for hospital admissions in the province.  
The Snapshot also calls attention to breathing diseases, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); it ranks third in the top 10 reasons for hospital admissions, despite the fact that they are affecting a small percentage of the population (2.7%). A closer look at the management of primary care could help initiate prevention efforts to help reduce the number of hospital admissions.
“The Snapshot shows us that as a province, and as individuals, we need look at what is going on in our communities and target prevention efforts accordingly”, says Stéphane Robichaud, CEO of the NBHC. “Some of the most frequent reasons why people go to the hospital are related to smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, which can be prevented by having a healthier lifestyle.”
The smoking cessation program recently announced by the Department of Health and the Regional Health Authorities is a step in the right direction, as are the development of Wellness Networks throughout the province; these networks can work in the community toward improved healthy eating, increased physical activity, or other wellness goals.
In addition to presenting the latest indicator data, the Snapshot includes a trending column with arrows that allow the reader to quickly see any change between this year and last year’s Snapshots. It is important to mention that not all trends are negative: physical activity is increasing, along with injury prevention; stress level and obesity rates have both seen improvement this year. 
The NBHC plans on updating the Snapshot annually, based on the most recent data available. It will continue to evolve as we identify additional planning needs and as more indicators become available.  The 2011 New Brunswick Population Health Snapshot is available online at: http://www.nbhc.ca//what-we-do/communities-map
The NBHC has been established as an independent organization that measures, monitors and evaluates New Brunswick’s health care system performance, population health and to engage citizens in the improvement of health service quality.
MEDIA CONTACT: Christine Paré, 506-869-6714, Christine.pare@nbhc.ca