Health is a resource for living and according to the World Health Organization it is 'the total physical, social, mental wellbeing of an individual and not merely the absence of disease (WHO 1948). That health and wellbeing is impacted on by factors referred to as the 'social determinants of health' to include education, socio- economic status, housing, and employment, it reflects a multi- dimensional nature. Promotion of health and wellbeing of communities, families and individuals therefore calls for a whole of government and society approach.
The community, workplace, school, hospital and places of recreation and prayer have been identified as major settings for achieving health and wellbeing. Dominica’s culture of community development and cooperatives, especially in the rural areas has laid the foundation for the implementation of the Healthy Community Programme.
The Healthy Community Programme introduced to Dominica in the early 2000s and later named the Healthy People Beautiful Communities Program aimed to promote the health of individuals and families within their living environments through the collaborative synergies of all public officers operating at the district level. This initiative has grown into an informal inter-ministerial coalition of officers within 5 of the 7 community development districts in Dominica.
Successes of the programme include: increased health awareness of community members resulting in more clean and beautiful environments, increased production and consumption of vegetables and small farm animals, strengthened community participation, empowerment and development of health promoting behaviours such as physical activity, protection of fauna and the environment, launching of income earning initiatives such as development of tourism sites.
The strategies implemented by participants of the Healthy People Beautiful Communities Programme to promote health and quality of life involve the following:
- Community consultation
- Community Education on Health Promotion strategy and Healthy Communities
- Education/health education
- Community empowerment including youth empowerment seminars
- Community Projects to include Agriculture/Forestry/Tourism
- Health promoting Schools
- Clean up and beautification
- Community Needs Assessments
- Coalition Building
Collaborating Ministries and Departments include
- Health - Lead Ministry,
- Sports Division
- Youth Division
- Community Development/Social Services
- Adult Education
- Agricultural Division
- Environmental Coordinating Unit
- Forestry Division
- Office of disaster management
- National securities
- Ministry of Education