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Public Health Spending & Mortality Reduction in Canada - P4H Network

Public Health Spending & Mortality Reduction in Canada

Journal of Social Science and Medicine finds that Canadian provinces with higher public health spending see a decrease in preventable deaths over time, especially for men. Curative spending showed less impact, suggesting long-term investment in prevention is key.

Researchers examined data from all ten Canadian provinces over nearly four decades (1979-2017). They looked for connections between public health spending and mortality rates, particularly from preventable causes.

The study found a clear link: provinces with higher public health spending saw a decrease in preventable deaths over time. This effect was especially pronounced for men, with a 1% increase in public health spending translating to a 0.29% decrease in preventable male deaths. While some decrease was observed for women as well, it was less significant.

The study compared public health spending to curative spending, which focuses on treating existing illnesses. Interestingly, curative spending showed a weaker association with reducing mortality rates. This suggests that long-term investments in public health initiatives – like disease prevention, health promotion, and population health surveillance – may be more effective in lowering overall mortality rates in the long run.

The researchers also dug deeper to understand which specific causes of death might be influenced by public health spending. They found reductions in deaths from some cancers and cardiovascular diseases were likely contributors to the overall decline in preventable mortality.

These findings challenge the notion that public health spending is only valuable if it produces immediate results. This study provides evidence that such investments while taking time to show their full impact, can significantly improve population health outcomes in the long run. By prioritizing public health spending, policymakers can potentially save lives and create a healthier future for Canadians.

Mehdi Ammi, Emmanuelle Arpin, F. Antoine Dedewanou, Sara Allin, Do expenditures on public health reduce preventable mortality in the long run? Evidence from the Canadian provinces, Science Direct