Philanthropist article looks at community determinants of well-bring

March 14, 2013

Dr. Gloria DeSantis’s article, “Voluntary Social Service Organizations Working on the Determinants of Health: Cause for Concern?” is featured in the latest issue of The Philanthropist.

The Philanthropist is a quarterly journal for practitioners, scholars, supporters and others engaged in the nonprofit sector. It includes articles and information about the sector's important contributions in Canada.

DeSantis’s article resulted from a community-based report she wrote in 2011 in collaboration with consultant Carla Bolen Anderson and Wendy Stone of the Regina Police Service.

Both the recent article and the original report focus on 37 community-based organizations in Regina working on the social determinants of health – in other words, the factors outside the healthcare system that affect health. DeSantis writes that the term “community determinants of well-being” was used to emphasize the non-medical nature of the work.

Of the services offered, the most common are in the areas of social supports and community engagement activities. The typical populations in the city that these organizations most frequently serve includes young adults and people described as “discriminated” or “stigmatized.”

The article outlines the methods used to conduct the survey of the community-based organizations and the 77 initiatives on which they are working.

The results show the priorities for the organizations across a range of areas, such as providing social supports, encouraging social inclusion, enhancing education opportunities, ensuring early life supports, and increasing food security.

As well, the article cites typical partners of these organizations as well as their sources of funding, the most prevalent of which is donations and fundraising. 

This survey information is important when considering that social determinants play a crucial role in influencing health outcomes. At the same time, there are growing health inequities not only in Regina but throughout the country, and many of these organizations are facing increased demand for their services but continue to rely on donations and fundraising to deliver socio-health services.

Given the precarious situation community organizations face, DeSantis suggests there is a way forward to reduce the persisting health inequities across communities – specifically, we must develop a stable, sustainable nonprofit social service sector; a coherent and explicit framework and relationships between governments and nonprofit organizations; and public policies informed by these organizations’ front-line work with communities.



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