Public Health

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Your Smartphone Could Help Fight Disease

Through the use of a common smartphone, we may be even closer to germs than ever, with the ability to not only see them, but also help researchers and medical professionals with applications ranging from disease diagnostics to helping in the fight against global health threats such as malaria.
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Time for Premiers to Stand Up to Federal Bullies on Health Care

When Canada's premiers meet for the annual Council of the Federation this week, the future of health care is a critical item on the agenda. The role of a premier is to stand up to federal government bullying on behalf of all Canadians. We are asking them to send a strong message to the Harper Conservative Government: Get back to the table and get back on board to support public health care for all in Canada.

Meet the New Strain of Flu: H7N9

Much like any new offering from Stephen King, which requires time to determine its place in his legacy, the new H7N9 flu requires more than just a few weeks to determine its place in the historical records of infectious disease.
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Lose Weight By Eating More...Worms?

New research suggests obesity might be an autoimmune condition caused by an imbalance in the microbiota of the gut. Good germs could help to keep obesity at bay, while bad germs could lead to increased weight gain, even without the person eating more.
Rachel Adler

How Kenney Is Killing Refugee Health Care

Today, Jason Kenney and the Conservative government announce a controversial list of countries that will determine who does and does not get access to healthcare in this country. This is what the government has facetiously called "public health and safety coverage" illuminating their limited understanding of the field of public health. As a family doctor working with refugees and refugee claimants, the potential impacts of this policy are horrifying. We will no doubt see individuals left with no choice but to allow their health to worsen before seeking services. It seems to me that this is a lose-lose situation.
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So, is Public Health Spending Sustainable Yet?

Recent information counters the prediction that health spending will inexorably gobble up all of our public resources, as has been argued by some commentators. But does this mean that the public health care cost curve is finally being bent and we no longer have to worry about health spending? Can we conclude that public health care spending is now sustainable for the long-term? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
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For-Profit Health Care Treats Shareholders First

This past week, a small family-owned medical facility just outside Toronto, the Shouldice Hospital, catapulted to the centre of the public-private debate in Canadian health care. Centric Health -- a publicly traded company under American control -- has placed a bid to acquire Shouldice for over 14-million dollars. Frustration with our current health system and the visceral reaction to contract it out is understandable. But for-profit hospital and provider arrangements are accountable first to their shareholders, second to patients and taxpayers.
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You Paid For my Teeth Cleaning, So Thanks

How did you end up paying for my teeth cleaning? My private health insurance plan reimburses me for dentistry and optometry, as well as prescription drugs and other health care services. But health insurance premiums aren't taxed the way the rest of income is. People without private health insurance are disadvantaged the most by the private health insurance subsidy. They have no private health insurance themselves, yet they still end up subsidizing everyone else's coverage.

What Hasn't Changed Since I Was B.C. Health Minister

Back in ancient times I was health minister in B.C. Much has changed. No one had heard of AIDS in 1979-80. Organ transplants were rare. MRIs were just gleams in inventors' eyes. One thing has however remained the same -- the debate over private medicine. In those days doctors were demanding the right of "balance billing," a euphemism for padding their bills. Now the doctors are mad at Vancouver's Dr. Brian Day for operating his own form of balance billing by running a clinic outside the Medical Services Plan. At this writing, Day is challenging the government to go to court and get an injunction against his clinic.
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2012 Olympics: Let the Germs Begin

The Games represent a unique opportunity for the world to share its germs and for public health officials to find a way to stem the tide of infection. The fear of germs has recently been raised to a level not seen since the days of SARS or the pandemic flu. It's now a matter of time to see whether the fears will be realized or fade away as the athletic achievements take over.

Tax Junk Science, Not Junk Food

The media has jumped on a paper that has supposedly found a link between taxing "junk food" and a reduction in obesity. News flash: this is old news. We know that simplistic top-down approaches such as taxation or public announcements telling us to exercise and eat our vegetables don't work.
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Hunger is Not a Game, Canada

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food will present his preliminary findings on food security in Canada on May 16 in Ottawa. It's my hope that this will put child hunger squarely on the political agenda in Canada. We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but hunger is something that we increasingly see among the families that bring their children to the hospital for medical attention.