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A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health can Revive Canadian Democracy [Perfect Paperback]

Ryan Meili
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 16 2012
Drawing on his experiences as a family physician in the inner city of Saskatoon, Mozambique, and rural Saskatchewan, Dr. Meili argues that health delivery too often focuses on treatment of immediate causes and ignores more fundamental conditions that lead to poor health. Income, education, employment, housing, the wider environment, and social supports: far more than the actions of physicians, nurses, and other health care providers, it is these conditions that make the greatest difference in our health. Brought to life by patient stories, A Healthy Society explores a number of specific health determinants, and ends in a discussion of democratic reforms that could help reshape the way we organize ourselves to create a truly healthy society. Through a mix of scholarship and story, the author proposes a new approach to politics. The use of human health as a measure of our success as a society, and the application of the ideas of the social determinants of health to public policy, appeals beyond political lines to common values. By synthesizing diverse ideas into a plan for action based in the lived experiences of practitioners and patients, A Healthy Society breaks important ground in the renewal of politics toward the goal of better lives for all Canadians.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Solidly facts and exquisite writing April 18 2013
Format:Perfect Paperback
This is by far the most clear and accessible book about societal well-being I have ever read. Drawing upon his knowledge as a medical doctor, Meili lays out how people's well-being can be bolstered by public policy. His analysis is well-articulated and thorough. This is a must-read for anyone interested in living in a healthier, happier society.
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Format:Perfect Paperback
Canada is a country proud to offer all its citizens equal access to health care. While Canada’s health care system is far from perfect, few Canadians would exchange their medicare cards for a more commercial and risky American-style system. Unlike in the U.S., equal access to health care protects Canadians from being thrust into poverty by medical expenses.

Canada’s health care system functions uniquely as one of its few great equalizers. Everyone can use the health care system, but other determinants of health, such as education, employment, transportation, and even fresh vegetables, are not distributed equally throughout the class hierarchy of Canadian society. This becomes apparent to doctors when the health care system is called upon to pick up the pieces in the lives of poor and disadvantaged individuals, who often become unhealthy because they lack of access to the other determinants of health.

The thesis of Dr. Ryan Meili’s book A Healthy Society is that a healthy society is an equal society; specifically a society that values equal access both to health care and other determinants of health. Meili is a family doctor who provides medical services in several poor communities in the province of Saskatchewan. His book is written in a very personable style, his writing skillfully weaving a patterned fabric of policy commentary, health statistics, and adventurous vignettes. Meili’s story of health care provision in Saskatchewan reads like a movie script at times, complete with colourful characters, dramatic accidents, and speeding ambulances. Through his adventure and subsequent analysis, Meili thoughtfully describes several obstacles to societal health along with opportunities for improvement.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, important book! May 30 2012
Format:Perfect Paperback
A great book! Get it right now! It will be really useful as an introduction to the social determinants of health for health care professionals. Use it in combinations with books such as About Canada: Health and Illness, and Social Determinants of Health: Canadian Perspectives.

A tour de force! In A Healthy Society Dr. Ryan Meili has interwoven the academic literature on the determinants of health with his experiences as a physician and community activist to present a vivid portrait of the adverse effects of current public policy directions upon the health of Canadians. The volume is disturbing, but also inspiring in that its analysis points the way forward out of our current predicament. Dr. Meili may well be the modern incarnation of Dr. Rudolf Virchow who pointed out in 1848 that "Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing more than medicine on a grand scale.

Dennis Raphael, PhD
Professor of Health Policy, York University, and editor of
Social Determinants of Health: Canadian Perspectives
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