Local Health Unit Concerned About Data Gap

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit wants to see more quality data when it comes to the health of local school aged children.

Researchers from Ontario public health units have wrapped up a year-long project which has found there are important data gaps.

Director of Health Promotion at the local health unit Nicole Dupuis says there isn't any local data on key issues such as mental health, physical activity and healthy eating.

Without that data, she says it is difficult to approach councils looking for funding for specific projects.

The report found 94% of Ontario public health units felt the current local data available does not meet their needs for planning and evaluating health programs for children and youth.

"The question we often get is why should I invest in that or is this problem really an issue and how do we know," says Dupuis.  "At the local level, we can say from provincial trends that we know that obesity is an issue but I can't say to a councillor this is an issue in your ward."

She says general surveys are not the answers.

"The problem with that strategy is it is very resource intensive, it requires a lot of people at the local level to be able to do that kind of survey to collect, you have to create your own agreements and do that on a regular basis and then the analysis of it requires a lot of staff time."

The provincial report called "Children Count" has identified four key recommendations including establishing a provincial task force, having an advocate for children and youth, and strengthening and co-ordinating existing surveillance systems.