The CHLA/ABSC board responded very quickly to the announcement that funding for the Canadian Health Information Network had been cut by writing to the Minister of Health and to the Chief Public Health Officer. We are very happy to see that this issue is finally getting the broader attention that it deserves, with a column in today's Globe and Mail.
The Honourable Tony Clement
Minister of Health
Minister's Office - Health Canada
Brooke Claxton Building, Tunney's Pasture
Postal Locator: 0906C
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
November 23, 2007
Dear Mr. Clement
The Canadian Health Libraries Association/Association des bibliothèques de la santé du Canada (CHLA/ABSC) board has heard through members, listservs and other online forums that funding for the Canadian Health Network-Réseau canadien de la santé will be discontinued effective March 31, 2008. If this is true, we are writing to encourage Health Canada to rethink this decision so that the Canadian public continues to have access to credible, Canadian-focused health information.
'The primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers' (Canada Health Act 1984) .
According to the Health Canada website, Health Canada does the following to achieve this:
• Communicates information about disease prevention to protect Canadians from avoidable risks.
• Encourages Canadians to take an active role in their health, such as increasing their level of physical activity and eating well. ( http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/index_e.html )
A recent study by the Canadian Council on Learning demonstrated that health literacy and health status are strongly correlated (http://www.ccl-cca.ca/CCL/Newsroom/Releases/20070919ReleaseHealthLiterac... ). The Canadian Health Network promotes information about disease prevention, encourages Canadians to take an active role and consequently promotes health literacy. . As a collaboration between the Public Health Agency of Canada, and 26 major health organizations, universities, hospitals and libraries, that tallies more than 380,000 hits per month, it has developed into an effective instrument to communicate information about disease prevention and to encourage Canadians to take an active role in their health..
CHLA/ABSC members are committed to improving patient safety and health care in Canada, and to do so by supporting Canadian initiatives and Canadian resources More than 58% of the 15 million Canadians with home internet access search the internet for health information on a regular basis (Stats Canada. Canadian Internet Use Survey, http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/060815/d060815b.htm ). CHLA/ABSC urges Health Canada to continue to fund a mechanism that facilitates access by citizens to Canadian sources of accurate, high quality health information in both official languages. Such access supports the personal health decision-making necessary to ensure a healthy future for individual Canadians and our nation.
Canadian Health Libraries Association/Association des bibliothèques de la santé du Canada