Health Promotion: A Key Community Investment
Current Funding Situation
Despite their substantial contributions to addressing the determinants of health, community groups and frontline professionals remain under-funded and under-recognized for the work they do. The following are some of the challenges in accessing funds:
- Restrictive funding guidelines and criteria.
- Cutbacks in provincial funding, increasing the need to search for funding.
- Political influences, including a centralization toward big cities and the southern part of the province, and funding practices that encourage competition amongst community groups.
- Community organizations are not encouraged to take risks or adapt and change programs to suit the evolving needs of society.
- Some organizations where funding is available have taken on more of a corporate image putting them out of touch with the grassroots.
- Funding guidelines are focused mainly on economic development issues rather than the broad determinants of health.
- Difficulties are created due to lack of communication between funders and community groups.
Successful Strategies for Accessing Funds:
Cost Benefits of Health Promotion
- Strong, positive leadership.
- Communication with the funder that is positive and trusting.
- Thorough writing of proposals.
- Acountability that is characterized by detailed documentation, i.e., uses a variety of approaches to measure outcomes and demonstrate success.
In today's climate of stretching health care dollars, governments look for evidence of how health promotion activities save money. Looking at outcomes of health promotion primarily from a financial perspective does not give a clear picture of its effectiveness. Reasons for this include:
- the far-reaching effects of the determinants of health, affected by health promotion activities, make outcomes difficult to measure (Zollner and Lessof, 1998).
- the needs of people and the benefits to communities change over the span of a health promotion project, making cost benefits difficult to pin down.
- when the focus is on cost effectiveness and efficiency, real issues in the community can be missed (Dixon and Sindall, 1994).
- activities associated with health promotion have wide ranging effects, touching more people than those originally proposed, blurring where the cost benefits exist (Health Canada, 2002).
True evaluation of health promotion comes with a variety of approaches. This means listening to people's narratives and using participatory, community-directed methods along with statistics.