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Achieving Vertical and Horizontal Integration: Issues in Structures, Processes, and Equity

The complexities of the social, political, economic and environmental factors that influence health and inequalities in health, and the fact that most of these determinants lie outside of the exclusive jurisdiction of the health sector; requires the health sector to act in collaboration with other sectors of government and society in order to more effectively address those factors that influence health and well-being. (Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization, 2008, p. iii)

Intersectoral action makes possible the joining of forces, knowledge and means to understand and solve complex issues whose solutions lie outside the capacity and responsibility of a single sector. It can be both a strategy and a process, and can be used to promote and achieve shared goals in many areas including policy, research, planning, practice and funding. … Intersectoral action has two dimensions: a horizontal dimension that links different sectors at a given level (e.g. partners in the health, education and justice sectors at the community level); and a vertical dimension that links different levels within each sector (e.g. local, provincial and federal government partners within the health sector). Both dimensions are important for success. (Public Health Agency of Canada, 1999, p. 5)

A lack of integration weakens the likelihood that clients will access the right combination of programs and services at the right time. Opportunities to achieve synergies are lost; the compliance burden is greater than it needs to be, and in some cases, when they use a program provided by one department or level of government, citizens and businesses are denied access or inadvertently penalized for using a program provided by another. (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, 2004, p. 1)

These quotes provide the reader with an overview of some of the key issues that intervention integration draws attention to and attempts to address. Keep these in mind as you gather insights from these Proceedings of the 2009 Multiple Intervention Programs Symposium, “Achieving Vertical and Horizontal Integration.”