“Increase input from all sport-health stakeholders”
Didier Ellart, Vice-president of the national association of elected representatives responsible for sport (ANDES), presents the case-study on sport on prescription published in February and produced with Sport and Citizenship.
What was the idea behind this Europe-level study?
DE: ANDES, the Sport network in French local authorities, is well-known for its involvement in the subject of “Sport-Health”, and we contribute to the National Sport-Health Strategy. It was clearly necessary to look at schemes being run elsewhere so as to analyse governance and funding models, identify obstacles and pick up good practices which could be copied in France. The “Sport-Health” concept is making progress in France, but there is still a real need to convince stakeholders, including health professionals. Sport and physical activity (SPA) adapted to needs is a societal matter, an economic challenge and a genuine public health issue.
What have you learnt from this study?
DE: We realised that France is behind its European neighbours in its prevention system. Most French people have a sedentary life style and the lack of physical activity leads to increased risk factors and various diseases.
The study of different schemes shows that not one, but several systems exist which could be put in place and that there is a wide variation in the definition of sport-health depending on culture and country. The French health system is based more on medical cures than on prevention. In countries in the North of Europe, citizens with long-term health problems or chronic diseases benefit from a collaborative approach which includes sport-health, while in countries in the South of Europe personalised support for the patient is essential.
What does ANDES suggest to improve local authority measures?
DE: The local authority remains the mainstay of the scheme as it develops inspiring, new initiatives, but we need to get away from the stereotypical French system which is still too heavily dependent on doctors. We need to increase input from all sport-health stakeholders (pharmacists, centres for sport medicine, nurses and the education community) who can share information and enable the care of patients.
The benefits from regular, moderate, progressive, supervised SPA as drug-free therapy are well-established, but the main national health authority and the national health insurance still need to be convinced, so that this care can receive partial funding. This will balance the economic model, set a framework for intervention and support local authorities in their proactive policies and their expertise.
It would be appropriate to support the targeted evaluation of these schemes, so as to share experience, increase scientific data in this domain, and convince the authorities of the importance of this issue. Irrespective of the appeal of regional sport facilities, sport-prevention-health problems are not the same in urban and suburban areas as in rural areas.