Western Cape Government Proactive about Increasing Wellness
Western Cape Government hosted its first Wellness Summit at the Kelvin Grove in Newlands on 8 November 2011.
The summit provided an important platform for the provincial government to interact with their relevant partners and stakeholders around the concept of wellness and the move away from disease towards wellness. This shift involves a broader level of society and also forms part of Western Cape Government's strategic goals.
Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, convened the Wellness Summit as part of initiatives to achieve the provincial government's strategic goal of "Increasing Wellness". There is a shift in emphasis from downstream curative care to addressing upstream inter-sectorial factors at a behavioral, societal and structural level to reduce the burden of disease. This implies that health is no longer solely the business of the Department of Health but rather a "whole of society" approach. This places more responsibility on communities to take responsibility for their own health and well-being.
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, said that the Wellness Summit represented a major mind shift from illness to wellness. He stated, "The shift sets this province apart not only from other provinces in this country, but also from many other regional governments all over the world. Strategic Objective 4 of the Provincial Strategic Plan: Increasing Wellness is an approach to public health care that is certainly new and is redirecting the debate on public health management. As a government that has set its goal to be the best-run regional government in the world, we have broken new ground."
The objectives of the summit were to:
- Mobilise and engage the Western Cape communities in improving the wellness of the population.
- Discuss the rights and responsibilities of staff, patients and the general population in terms of health and wellness.
- Communicate the prevention and early detection of disease approach within the Western Cape Government.
- Encourage broader, active participation in wellness.
The declaration was drafted at the summit drawing from the parallel group discussions which included infectious diseases, injuries, non-communicable diseases, women's health and child health. Delegates were allocated additional time after the summit to provide further input before its finalisation and adoption by all delegates.
The feedback received after the summit indicated that support for healthy family systems and family resilience is lacking and that mental health needed greater emphasis separate from non-communicable diseases.
The declaration outlines a commitment towards working together to increase wellness in the province and acknowledges that the responsibility does not only lie with government, but that society as a whole will impact on the wellness of the people in the province.
"I am excited at the support that we experienced from all summit participants and at the outcomes that will play out in the months to come. Health and wellness is an all-encompassing state, and as a government it is our duty to ensure the efficient implementation of strategies and plans towards that goal. I believe that the path of wellness we have chosen is a path that challenges us, but it will lead to a transformation towards a better life," Minister Botha said.