Spend on social services, save on health care, says new Saint John doc

CBC News

You may have heard the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

A new Saint John doctor and medical educator says the same holds true for spending on social services.

"Spending on social services tends to have a larger impact on gigantic health outcomes, such as dying, versus spending on health care," said Dr. Daniel Dutton, the newest addition to the instructional staff at Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick.

"In Canada, we spend a gigantic proportion of our money ... on health care, which ends up being treatment of diseases.

"And in medical education, we understand that the social determinants of health — things like income and education, the environments in which people live their lives — are very important for the eventual health outcomes people experience."

Dutton works in public health and epidemiology and has just started at the Saint John Medical School. He previously worked at the University of Calgary, where he led a study on the effect of provincial social services and health spending on health outcomes. It was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in January 2018.

The researchers looked at 30 years worth of budgets in nine Canadian provinces. They found health-care spending doubled per person over that time, with no commensurate gains in health outcomes. 

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