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Chronic Disease

What are Chronic Diseases?

The World Health Organization defines chronic diseases as “diseases of long duration and generally slow progression.” Common themes found in other definitions state that chronic diseases:

  • have many causes but often share common risk factors (i.e. tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, and/or excessive alcohol use),
  • usually begin slowly and develop gradually over time,
  • can occur at any age, although they become more common in later life,
  • can impact quality of life and limit daily activities, and
  • require ongoing actions on a long-term basis to manage the disease, with involvement from individuals, health care providers and the community.

Chronic diseases impact the health of the population as well as the sustainability of the health care system. Over half of Newfoundland and Labrador residents aged 12 years and older have at least one chronic disease; many people live with more than one.

Through its policy initiatives the Department of Health and Community Services is focusing on a select number of diseases and conditions that affect a large portion of the population and have a significant impact on quality of life. These include:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Lung disease
  • Stroke

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Improving Health Together: The Chronic Disease Policy Framework

In December 2011, the Provincial Government released Improving Health Together: A Policy Framework for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management in Newfoundland and Labrador. PDF This Framework sets the direction for chronic disease prevention and management by all partners including government, community groups, employers, the health system, and individuals. In addition to disease-specific actions, the Framework focuses on health system changes which will provide improved support for people at risk of developing, or living with, all types of chronic diseases.

Current and future actions will stem from these policy statements:

  • Self-Management: Being the manager of your own health
  • Prevention and Awareness: Promoting health and preventing disease
  • Health Care Delivery: Organizing and coordinating services to meet the needs of individuals
  • Practice Guidelines: Using current information and standards to provide quality care
  • Information Systems and Research: Collecting and using data to guide and monitor programs and services
  • Community Action: Working together for better health

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An early action from the Framework is Improving Health: My Way  the Provincial Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, which is offered in all regions of the province.

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Community Action

The Department works closely with the following community partners providing support to people living with chronic disease.

In addition, the Department provides funding grants to community partners to support chronic disease prevention and management initiatives.

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