Interior Health Authority program questioned

Health care bureaucracy may be giving some local politicians high blood pressure.

Health care bureaucracy may be giving some local politicians high blood pressure.

Some Regional District of North Okanagan board members are questioning the Interior Health Authority’s new Healthy Communities Initiative.

“They are coming back around to where they were before,” said director Jackie Pearase.

“Reinventing the wheel isn’t necessary.”

Director Mike Macnabb supports promoting healthy lifestyles but he says IHA used to have an extensive public health nurse program.

“It’s been gutted and what they’re allowed to do has been restricted,” he said.

“Setting up satellite clinics is not allowed. We had that model and they went away from it. Why did they do that?”

Macnabb also isn’t sure how RDNO will benefit from a partnership with IHA.

“We know how to make healthy communities,” he said of the local focus on parks, trails and making recreation accessible.

Macnabb also questions if IHA will actually provide funding to communities.

“I’ve never seen a cheque from IHA for community gardens.”

However, not everyone is negative towards IHA’s campaign.

“IHA is such a widespread organization and it’s been difficult to pinpoint who to contact. Now, we have a contact who can put us on to the right people,” said director Rick Fairbairn.

Director Mary-Jo O’Keefe believes the Healthy Community Initiative may help RDNO receive government grants.

“Giving people proper access to trails is a financial challenge,” she said.

The initiative’s five pillars are physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco reduction, healthy environments and priority populations.

Tanya Osborne, community health facilitator, says the focus is reducing incidence of chronic disease, decreasing health care spending and increasing collaborative efforts.

“Local governments are a key player in positively influencing health in the community,” said Osborne.