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Despite record-high spending on medical services, people get sicker everywhere in greater numbers. According to the World Health Organization, more people die every year from so-called non-communicable diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer than ever before, and the trends are worsening.
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Yesterday's announcement that the H5N1 avian flu had led to a death in Canada has taken public health officials -- and the general public -- by surprise. But while the revelation may signal the manifestation of many a fictionalized account of pandemics, the reality is that this is by no means a reason for panic.
Over the last few weeks, as expected, there has been a transition in the media headlines from the antics of Ford to the augury of flu. There was more than enough reason to believe that the virus that caused the pandemic from 2009-2010, better known as H1N1pdm or "swine flu" was back.
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.
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.
We cannot force people to make healthier choices but empowering them with proper information is the first step. With clear labeling, the customer then has more knowledge about what they're eating and can make an informed decision. The control is in their hands, not the restaurants'.
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.
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.
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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Quebec's health insurance board says reimbursements paid out for illegal fees charged by public health clinics are nearly four times higher than last year. So far this year, the board has given back...
A little over a month ago I was invited to a food industry breakfast to offer my comments on how the food industry might help in improving the health of our society. Unfortunately, just three days prior to the event, I was uninvited without the courtesy of an explanation or an apology. So I decided to record my talk and post it online.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Only you can manage your own diet and your own calorie intake. No government, no restaurant, no physician can do it for you. It's this complexity that makes personal health responsibility so important in reversing the obesity epidemic.
Flickr: Mr. T in DC
If somehow you have gotten through the last 30 years without HIV/AIDS impacting your life, kudos to you. For the rest of us, it's been different. That's why Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford's proposed cuts to funding to HIV/AIDS prevention and services has provoked outrage.
TORONTO - A new study raises concerns about the spread of drug-resistant gonorrhea in Ontario.A strain of gonorrhea that responds poorly to the last class of drugs available to treat the bacteria is g...
THE CANADIAN PRESS -- OTTAWA - The federal government has sent a "disease detective" to help Ontario deal with a dangerous outbreak of C. difficile that has hit at least 10 hospitals. The Public Healt...