Critics have begun pointing the finger at the medical system and its prescribers -- well-meaning doctors and specialists who've been giving too many patients excessively powerful opioid medications to deal with modest pain. But we can dig deeper and look at the relationship between medical education and pharmaceutical company influence as a significant contributing factor.
While the incomes of Canada's wealthiest are increasing, the absolute wealth of our poorest is decreasing. As this gap grows, so too do the differences in people's health risks, care and outcome. The poorer people are in Ontario, the more likely they are to have shorter lifespans, to be overdue for screening tests and to suffer from multiple chronic health conditions.
Cannabis has been a medicine for far longer than it has been a drug. There are many different theories of its history, and signs of it date back to the old testament and ancient europe, all over Asia, and spread down into Africa. Ancient history is a matter of interpretation and the details remain in debate, but cannabis use was a huge part of culture and medicine in distant parts of the world. As a medical user, I do still get high some times for fun. But that's not the whole picture.
Tattoos have long been considered to be much more than body decoration. The spiritual, social, personal and political significance of getting inked is an indelible aspect of body art, and most people who have undergone the uncomfortable, to outright painful procedure attest to it's intrinsic spiritual experience. But what about tattoos as a form of healing? What if there was a medicinal and curative element to this global ritual?
A 65-year-old man notices he's feeling more tired lately. He's gaining weight and losing muscle. He can't get as many erections, and generally feels foggy and unwell. His family doctor takes some blood tests and rules out thyroid problems, high cholesterol and blood sugar issues. The only finding is low testosterone -- but that's a normal part of aging, right?
If Canada is to implement national pharmacare, surely we want to know more about the drugs we'll be paying for. To this end, we must tackle a pre-existing challenge: we must open up the evidence our drug regulator houses concerning drug safety and effectiveness. For decades Health Canada has kept that information confidential at the behest of drug manufacturers. This practice limits the ongoing evaluation of a drug's safety and effectiveness and, in turn, provincial and territorial governments' decision-making about which drugs to pay for, not to mention physicians and patients who make decisions about which drugs to prescribe and take.
Race medicine promotes the false belief not only that human beings are naturally divided into races but also that racial inequality is caused by innate racial differences we must accept rather than social inequities we must change. Race is not a biological category that produces health disparities because of genetic differences, but racism has negative biological effects on people's bodies.
It's been nearly two years since the World Health Organization called the rise in antibiotic resistance a crisis. Since that time, public health officials have sought new answers to prepare for an uncertain future. While the idea of making new and stronger antibiotics continues to explored, its popularity has faded.
Canada's health system needs reform -- although provincial and territorial ministers might think reform is about cost cutting, I would argue that real reform is about putting patients first. As the chair of an organization representing 23 patient groups from across the country, I have seen too many conversations focused on reducing the budget impact of medications through pricing.
As patients are becoming more knowledgeable about their own care, and as doctors develop a wider array of options available to treat diseases, the costs are increasing. So it may be time to better distinguish between medically necessary care and optional care, for the sake of our country's limited health care budget going forward. It's a discussion worth having.
Why do we not dedicate even a fraction of what we put into actually paying our health workers for their services into coordinated planning for those services? We don't just need another short term task force to manage health worker supply. We need effective management of our entire health workforce on an ongoing basis.
Despite all the technology in academic and pharmaceutical institutions, nothing can stop a microbe from figuring out how to best an antibiotic. As such, the mood is sombre at best and apocalyptic at worst. Instead of trying to develop yet another complex mousetrap, the answer lies in looking at weapons of mass microbial destruction already in use in the wild.
The government is reducing the number of training spots for family physicians in the coming years. And now they are implementing cuts and clawbacks that are not only resulting in established physicians packing up and leaving the province, but our new grads are planning to leave in droves. The future isn't as bright as we once thought, and if something isn't done to prevent the loss of our physicians in training, it will only get much worse.
What good is it to treat illness if we can only send our patients back to the conditions that helped make them sick to begin with? Our health is strongly influenced by factors such as income, our working environment and affordable housing, over which neither patients nor medical doctors have much control.