From October 19-21, 2011, over 100 Member States of the United Nations will be formally participating in the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Among the delegates will be numerous heads of state and, at last count, over 60 Ministers of Health and other senior Government Ministers from around the world -- including Ministers from other G8 countries.
The Government of Canada is currently refusing to send its Minister of Health and/or other senior Cabinet Ministers to this key global meeting. The absence of Canada's Prime Minister and other federal Ministers from this world conference will send a dangerous message that neither the health of Canadians nor global cooperation to improve health in other countries are priorities for the Government of Canada.
OCT 21 UPDATE: On October 20, Canada's Minister of Health was asked, in the House of Commons, why she decided not to participate in the global meeting. See video for question and response (English translation of questions provided below).
TRANSLATION OF QUESTION: "Mr. Speaker, this week 118 countries are meeting in Brazil to develop a plan of action on the social determinants of health. However, this government (Canada) is not attending. In Canada, 20% of health care spending is attributable to preventable social causes of illness such as inadequate housing and poverty. The World Health Organization recognizes that social inequities result in inequities in health.The costs are astronomical. Can the Minister of Health explain why she is not at this important international meeting."
We call on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada to demonstrate commitment to improving the health of Canadians, and commitment to global cooperation for health by ensuring that Canada's Minister of Health attends and participates in the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, from October 19-21, 2011, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.