Health advocates want Alberta to spend more on injury, disease prevention

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EDMONTON – Health advocates want the Alberta government to spend more money on disease and injury prevention programs.

The group Wellness Alberta is calling for the creation of an independent foundation that would be funded by the province at a cost of $170 million a year.

Dr. Louis Francescutti says Alberta spends about one per cent of its health budget to prevent injuries and chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, but that isn’t enough.

He says the added money would be for programs to encourage people to eat healthier, be more physically active and to avoid tobacco.

Francescutti, who is a professor at the University of Alberta School of Public Health, says the foundation would save money in the long term by reducing the need for people to be in hospitals.

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The group says a Leger online poll that it commissioned suggests most Albertans surveyed want the government to at least double spending on disease and injury prevention.

“These illnesses and injuries are largely preventable — but the government needs to increase its investment now in proactive strategies to keep more Albertans healthy and out of the health-care system,” he said Monday.

Francescutti completed a one-year term as president of the Canadian Medical Association in August.

Other members of Wellness Alberta include energy industry executive Jim Gray, Kate Chidester of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Brian Geislinger with Alberta Blue Cross and Dr. Chris Eagle, former president and CEO of Alberta Health Services.

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