Health within the looking glass of a population health perspective is defined in broad terms which address questions such as what are the most important factors affecting the target population’s health; why some people are sicker than others; and what initiatives can be implemented to improve the health of all people and communities. The less talk, more action approach of Canadian health professionals and policy makers recognized the emerging field of research that is critical in advancing initiatives to reduce health inequities. Canadian Institutes of Health Research-Institute of Population and Public Health, (2011) stated that population health intervention research built on several decades of research in important areas such as health promotion, health education and community interventions. The Institute of Population and Public Health (IPPH) in partnership with the Canadian Population Health Initiative (CPHI) shared the vision to develop the program that will promote, advance and support population and public health research, infrastructure development, capacity building and knowledge exchange to improve the health of individuals, communities and global populations. The partnership developed a strong pan-Canadian population health research network to implement proactive and ongoing external relations with research organizations, population and public researchers, and research funders across disciplines and sectors. The synthesis on lessons learned from research to address population health issues of vulnerable populations is applied to the real-world situation as continuance of research that involves complex interventions in non-health sectors or multi-level interventions that cut across the socioecological systems. This strategy will give way to the proper application of intervention programs, use evidence to make decisions on how to use scarce resources in ways that will equitably improve the target population’s health status.
The Population Health Intervention Research Initiative for Canada (PHIRIC) aims to increase the quantity, quality and use of population health intervention research through a strategic and deliberate alignment of initiatives by key organizations responsible for public health research, policy and practice. Public Health Agency of Canada has invested in six National Collaborating Centers for Public Health which have a knowledge synthesis, translation and exchange mandate that can promote population health intervention research. In addition, Di Ruggiero, Rose & Gaudreau (2009) noted CIHI, CIHR, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada are examples of national organizations that have made strategic funding investments in population health intervention research. Population health intervention research supported through a variety of implementation processes such as intersectoral collaboration, knowledge synthesis and the development of decision-making tools could empower communities to support school nutrition. School nutrition programs in remote First Nations communities of the western James Bay region implement school-based nutrition interventions and improve access to quality healthy diets. In collaboration between academics and First Nations communities, this project highlights the factors that support sustainable change in remote settings which include comprehensive program design and provision, supportive infrastructure such as modified school curricula and policies, greenhouse gardens, funding, and local champions and volunteers. Stakeholders such students, teachers and parents valued this program regardless of the challenges and barriers. It continue to address the significance of school-based nutrition programs for the continuum of equal access to healthy foods, systematic action to address inequities. I believe that such a program should be replicated to United States school system to help reverse US obesity epidemic. Canadian initiatives to improve children’s access to healthy foods could act as the basis for US frameworks to make societal changes to enhance the target population’s well-being, and address socially-determined health conditions while preventing new incidence from emerging.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Institute of Population and Public Health, (2011). Canadian Institute for Health Information – Canadian Population Health Initiative. Population Health Intervention Research Casebook, 2011.
Di Ruggiero, E., Rose, A., & Gaudreau, K. (2009). Canadian Institutes of Health Research Support for Population Health Intervention Research in Canada. CJPH 100 (Suppl. 1) I15-I19.
Hawe, P., & Potvin, L. (2009). What is population health intervention research? CJPH 100 (Suppl. 1) I8-I14.
Manuel, D. G., & Rosella, L. C. (2010). Commentary: Assessing population (baseline) risk is a cornerstone of population health planning—looking forward to address new challenges. International journal of epidemiology, 39(2), 380-382.
Ndumbe-Eyoh, S., & Moffatt, H. (2013). Intersectoral action for health equity: a rapid systematic review. BMC public health, 13(1), 1056.
Ostry, A., & Morrision, K. (2013). A Method for Estimating the Extent of Regional Food Self-Sufficiency and Dietary Ill Health in the Province of British Columbia, Canada. Sustainability, 5(11), 4949-4960.
Raine, K. D. (2010). Addressing poor nutrition to promote heart health: moving upstream. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 26, 21C-24C.
Rhona Hanning, R. D., Skinner, K., & Tsuji, L. (2011). Empowering Communities to Support School Nutrition. Population Health Intervention Research Casebook, 45.