PopulationHealth, Primary Health Care, and Health Promotion in Rural Areas ofAlberta
PopulationHealth, Primary Health Care, and Health Promotion in Rural Areas ofAlberta
Thecommunity health nurse is an important health care professional whosemain role is to address the health-related challenges by workingclosely with the affected community. The nurse integrates theinvolvement of the community with a clinical understanding of healthexperiences of families and individuals within a given population(American Public Health Association, 2014). Most importantly, thecommunity health nurse should be able to articulate and translateillness and health experiences of a diverse community as well asvulnerable families and individuals in a given population to policymakers and health planners. This implies that apart from addressingthe health challenges facing the community directly, the communityhealth nurse can support the community in voicing its challenges aswell as aspirations. In this paper, I will discuss how I plan to workwith the rural community of Alberta, as a community health nurse, inaddressing various health and nutritional challenges that thecommunity is currently facing.
Thekey issues affecting the rural community of Alberta
Thekey issues affecting the rural community of Alberta can be broadlyclassified into three categories, namely economic, health, andnutritional problems. Economic challenges are mainly caused by thehigh rate of unemployment, which exceeds 20 %. This has reduced thecapacity of the residents of Alberta rural areas to afford qualityfood and health care services. This has resulted in new challenges,including the poor nutritional. The nutritional problems have alsobeen caused by the scarcity of food and lack of food securityprograms in the area. Some of the health challenges experienced inthe rural areas of Alberta include substance abuse (excessivesmoking) and susceptibility to infections, especially the respiratoryinfections. This implies that the environment and the livingconditions subject the people of the rural areas of Alberta to therisk of suffering from various diseases.
Effortsto enhance population health
Populationhealth focuses on health outcomes of a given group of people and thedistribution of the health outcomes within the population. This fieldof health aims at enhancing the health of the population as a whole.This means that the strategies (such as reducing disparities andinequalities) adopted to improve population health should aim ataddressing challenges that affect the health of the population atlarge (Kindig & Stoddart, 2008). As a community health nurse, Iplan to use two approaches to improve the health of the ruralpopulation of Alberta. The first strategy is disease prevention,which will focus on prevention of respiratory infections, earlyimmunization of children, and health conditions related to smoking.The disease prevention strategy will be implemented on three levels,namely the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. The primary levelwill involve the reduction of factors that are likely to lead tohealth problems. This includes the reduction in the rate of smokingby educating the residents about the negative effects of smoking,encouraging parents to take their children for immunization at anearly age to reduce the chances of suffering from diseases (such aspolio), and encouraging residents to keep the environment (includingtheir home compounds) clean in order to avoid illnesses, such asrespiratory diseases.
Thesecondary will involve early detection of potential development ofhealth problems and interventions that will prevent furtherdevelopment of the detected problems. This will be achieved bydetermining (through diagnosis) of people who have suffered fromsmoking, lack of early immunization, and unsafe living conditions.Prevention will be achieved by encouraging the groups of people(including the desperate youths) at the risk of abusing substances tostop smoking and giving immunization drugs to children who missed itat their tender age. This will prevent further development of healthproblems. The most appropriate way of achieving this is by organizingeducational seminars in the rural areas in order to enlighten membersof the community in health conditions affecting their lives and howto prevent them.
Tertiarydisease prevention aims at treating the health problem with theobjective of reducing its effects, prevent further development, andthe chances of recurrence (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014).This strategy will apply to residents who have already contractedrespiratory diseases, health conditions related with smoking, andchildren suffering from different diseases as a result of lack ofearly immunization. This implies that, as a community nurse, I willbe forced to collaborate with local health care facilities to bringthe medical services closer to the people, which will be easilyachieved by organizing free medical camps in the rural areas.
Healthpromotion is the second strategy that I plan to use in addressing thehealth challenges facing the rural population of Alberta. Healthpromotion is defined in the Ottawa Chapter as the process ofenhancing people’s ability to take control over their health(Tumatanui, 2010). Some of the main health promotion themes includeadvocacy, mediation, and enabling. This implies that health promotionis a multidimensional strategy that cannot be achieved using a onesize fits all tactics. Unlike other strategies health promotionsrecognized as the most appropriate way of addressing a larger numberof factors (including physical, social, political, and economic) thataffect human health. In the case of the urban population of Alberta,I will apply three components of the Ottawa Chapter on healthpromotion to address the specific needs of the Alberta population.First, I will advocate for the development of a healthy public policythat address the specific needs of the rural community. This will beaccomplished by calling together all the stakeholders (including thehealth care professionals in the area, administrative officers, andthe residents) to discuss the way forward on all issues affecting thecommunity. This will create a participatory platform for theresidents to discuss the issue of food scarcity, unemployment,inaccessibility of health care facilities, and unsafe environmentthat increase chances for respiratory infections.
Thesecond health promotion approach is the creation of a supportiveenvironment. Tumatanui (2010) defined the supportive environment asthe one in which people take care of each other and people generateconditions that are safe, satisfying, stimulating to each member ofthe community. This will be achieved by helping the rural communitiescreate support networks within which they will support and help oneanother. For example, residents who are addicted to smoking will beput into small groups and then guided out of addiction step by step.The group members will encourage one another from time to time inorder to avoid relapse.
Thethird strategy is to strengthen actions taken by the community. Thismeans that decisions, priorities, and strategies should be generatedby the community (Tumatanui, 2010). My role as a community healthnurse will be to bring the stakeholders on board and help them makedecisions, set priorities, and design strategies. At this point Iwill invite specialists to advise the stakeholders accordingly. Forexample, my nutritionist colleague will volunteer to advise thecommunity on the best dietary behaviors and give them the way forwardon their plan to initiate the food security program.
Primaryhealth care mainly focuses on protection, maintenance, andrestoration of human health. The main goal of primary health care isto ensure that all people have better health, which is achieved byreducing exclusion and disparities within the community, organizinghealth care around people’s needs, pursuing collaborativeframeworks, enhancing the participation of the stakeholders (WHO,2014). In the case of the rural areas of Alberta, the main challengeis lack of access to primary health care services, which is caused bythe scarcity of health care facilities. The short-term solution tothis challenge will be to organize health camps in different areas.The long-term solution will be to advocate for the construction ofhealth care facilities in different locations of the rural Alberta.This will require the empowerment of the local people to enable themvoice their health concerns to the stakeholders in the health sector.
Creationof food bank
Foodscarcity, high prices of the little food stuff that are available,and the long distance between the residential areas and thediscounted food stores are some of the critical challenges that thepopulation of the rural areas of Alberta has been facing. The ruralcommunity is aware of the challenge and has proposed a viablesolution that will involve the development of a food bank. As acommunity health nurse, it will be important to support the idea thathas risen by the community, instead of suggesting a new solution.This is in line with the third components of the health promotionframework in Ottawa Chapter, which emphasizes on the need tostrengthen the community actions (Ministryof Health, 2008). Thisimplies that the community should be empowered to set priorities,develop its own strategies, make decisions, and implement them inorder to attain better health.
Thefirst step towards the development of a food bank is the developmentof personal skills of the stakeholders who are expected to take partin the project. The development of personal skills is a healthpromotion strategy that seeks to support community’s teaching in alifetime, thus increasing the number of options available thecommunity (Tumatanui, 2010). This helps the community in takingcontrol over its own health and makes conducive choices. In the caseof the rural community of Alberta personal skills will be enhanced byorganizing seminars to be attended by the stakeholders in the foodbank project. The seminars will provide a platform for the localcommunity to present their views regarding the issue and thecommunity health nurse to advise them accordingly. In addition, acolleague, the provincial nutritionist who has volunteered to givefree consultation service, will direct the community on the bestpractices for the development of a food bank.
Itis worthwhile noting that the seminar will give theoreticalinformation to the stakeholders who will be expected to put theknowledge into practice. Converting theoretical knowledge intopractice is a challenge, especially to a rural folk characterized bypoverty and ignorance on how to address its own challenges. Thisimplies that the services of the community health nurse and theprovincial nutritionist will be required during the process ofimplementing the idea of a food bank. This will help the community inadopting the element of Ottawa’s Chapter on health promotion whichinvolves making the movement into the future (WHO,2014). Thisimplies that the society has to change its everyday setting, whichincludes the places of learning, play, and live with the objective ofattaining a better health for all members. I, as the community healthnurse and the provincial nutritionist will work closely with thecommunity to provide guidance on the implementation of the food bankplan.
Anysuccessful project should be accepted by the community expected tobenefit and individuals who are should be leading its implementation.In the case of the rural areas of Ontario, the community will betaught on the importance of establishing a food bank in the regionand the benefits (including a reduction in food prices andavailability of quality food throughout the year) it will get fromthe project. The appropriate ways of achieving this is to organizeforums where people can ask questions about the project and getimmediate answers from the community health nurse and the provincialnutritionist.
Promotionof the population health is a process that requires the concertedefforts of all the stakeholders. Although the community health nursehas the knowledge and experiences of different illnesses and healthconditions, the contribution of the target community and the leadersis needed to ensure the success of the health care promotionstrategies. In the case of the Alberta rural community, there is aneed to involve the contributions of the entire population indesigning the health care promotion strategies that will address thenutritional, poverty, and infection challenges. Some of the viablesolutions include the organization of seminars to educate theresidents and health care camps.
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