According to a Canadian report, chronic diseases are the single weightiest burden on the shoulders of the national health -care system.
The annual report released yesterday by the Ontario Health Quality Council says that, one in three Ontario residents are currently fighting a chronic disease. It warns that unless the government acts urgently, it will have a "full-blown crisis" on its hands.
Says chairman Ray Hession: "We are facing a major challenge that's growing day by day; we need to start dealing with this challenge urgently, decisively and effectively."
According to the report even if more than half of health-care costs are already taken up by chronic diseases, which include asthma, arthritis, diabetes and heart failure, more attention is required by the government in this area.
While acknowledging that "Ontario is facing a daunting challenge to prevent, reduce and better manage chronic diseases", Hession stressed that action needs to be taken now to fight conditions that are often preventable or treatable.
Hession said almost four in five Ontario residents over the age of 65 have at least one chronic disease, and of them, 70 per cent suffer from two or more conditions. He opined that obesity is fuelling the rise of many diseases and that simply getting people to eat better, stay active and giving them safe and meaningful work would prevent 80 per cent of the cases of coronary heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, and over 85 per cent of lung cancer cases.
Good news from the report include increased access to the five services highlighted in Ontario's wait-time strategy and the number of 12-to-19-year-olds smoking daily having gone down from one in 17 in 2005 from one in nine in 2000.