Thursday, September 23, 2010

Businessess Have A Role in Healing Chronic Disease Burden

OTTAWA, Ontario, September 22 /Canada NewsWire/ - More than 40 per cent of Canadians say they suffer from at least one chronic disease. With many of these individuals in the workforce, chronic disease is more than a health issue - it affects businesses too. A new Conference Board of Canada study, published in advance of World Heart Day on Sunday, outlines the vital roles that businesses have in confronting chronic disease.

Cardiovascular conditions comprise just one category of chronic diseases: pulmonary disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, cancer, diabetes and mood disorders are other common conditions. The World Health Organization estimated that in 2005, chronic diseases accounted for 89 per cent of all deaths in Canada.

"The prevalence of chronic diseases has reached a scale that should set off alarm bells within organizations," said Diana MacKay, Director, Education and Health. "Chronic disease does more than just negatively affect a person's health and quality of life."

"Not only can chronic diseases increase absenteeism and benefit costs for organizations, they can also decrease productivity. When employees have to take time from their working day to manage their condition or to care for family members living with chronic diseases, organizational performance suffers."

In 2005, 42 per cent of Canadians aged 12 or older said they were living with at least one chronic disease, according to The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on the State of Public Health in Canada (2008). Federal and provincial governments have taken action in recent years to prevent and manage chronic disease. Businesses have responded, but there is more that they can do. This publication, Addressing Chronic Diseases: What's Business Got to Do With It?, identifies actions that businesses can take, including:

...Offering employee health and wellness programs;
...Providing corporate sponsorship of chronic disease prevention and management initiatives;
...Partnering with health service organizations to develop products and services;
...Developing business niches in employee wellness and chronic disease prevention and management; and
...Partnering with governments and/or health service organizations.

The briefing is a publication of the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management. Through the Centre, the Conference Board examines the pressures that chronic diseases place on the Canadian economy and society in general.

The Conference Board has conducted extensive research into the direct and indirect impacts of chronic disease; in February 2010, the Canadian Heart Health Strategy: Risk Factors and Future Cost Implications, identified cost savings of $76.4 billion in Canada between 2005 and 2020 if targeted reductions in risk factors related to cardio-vascular diseases alone could be achieved.

This report includes two case studies:

Vancouver Board of Trade Health, Wellness and Well-Being Task Force, created in 2009; and
Leveraging Information, Forging Excellence, a joint project of Victorian Order of Nurses and IBM.

With the support of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Conference Board published two additional case studies in September 2010:

GP2S - Encouraging the Implementation of Employee Health Programs in Quebec; and,
Medavie Blue Cross: Advancing Organizational Health Through the inHealth Solutions® Suite.

The publications are available at

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