North Pole Trek; BC Pollen, Booze, Smoking, Drugs, Nurses, and Needle Exchange; Toronto Lead; Alberta Health Cuts; Drywall and Asbestos

April 20, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Posted in disability, Medical | Leave a comment

Medical MondayCanadian Edition

This is the first of three articles for Moose’s Medical Monday, April 20th 2009

It’s a real mixed bag of Good Newsgood news and Bad Newsbad news in Canadian Medicine and disability news. Let’s start the Canada Health roller coaster.

good news Ontario Thunder Bay quadriplegic reaches North Pole:

“The men, both lawyers, say they embarked on the daunting trek to raise awareness of accessibility issues and to show how obstacles can be overcome through persistence. Shannon and Watkins erected a disabled parking sign at the North Pole to commemorate their successful trek”.

bad news British Columbia Late spring means high pollen count for B.C.:

“A long winter and late spring in B.C. mean many plants are ramping up pollination efforts all at the same time, wreaking havoc on the immune systems of pollen allergy sufferers”.

Hey, since when is mid-April a “late Spring”? In the seven years I lived in Toronto, I swear there wasn’t one warm day before June 10th.

Canadian Drinking Teambad news British Columbia Canadians who drink, drink a lot:

“More than half of all the alcohol consumed in Canada is being downed by just a 10th of the population”.

“Younger adults, age 15 to 24, are consuming nearly 80% of their alcohol in excess of the low-risk guidelines set out by the [UVic's Centre for Addictions Research]“.

good news British Columbia Despite the above startling statistic, Teens use less booze, drugs and tobacco, new health survey shows:

“With all the negative stereotyping we see and hear about young people in our province, it is encouraging to note that smoking, alcohol use and marijuana use have all declined since the last survey in 2003,” said Annie Smith, executive director of the society, after the report was released Tuesday.

“There are promising and positive trends in areas like smoking and alcohol,” she said, referring to the fact that 29 per cent of 13-year-olds said they have drunk alcohol, down from 34 per cent five years earlier. For 15-year-olds, 58 per cent said they had drunk alcohol, down from 65 per cent in 2003.

“Clearly, we have to use the public messages or interventions that are working and apply them to other areas,” she added.

The survey indicates that the typical age when kids first try marijuana is 13 and 14, but the overall number of youth who have tried marijuana shrank from 37 per cent in 2003 to 30 per cent in 2008.

The survey also measures teen rates of prescription pills and hallucinogens use, seatbelt and helmet use, teen sex, suicidal thoughts, and overall health

good news British Columbia Victoria – Needle exchange models examined:

“Victoria mayor looks at combining service with suburban health clinics. The idea of locating needle exchanges in suburban medical clinics is being greeted skeptically by local mayors.”

Victoria’s fixed needle exchange on Cormorant Street, funded by the VIHA and operated by AIDS Vancouver Island, was evicted last May when operators were unable to control problems that spilled onto the street.bad news

Neighbours complained that people congregating outside presented a frightening face to the streetscape and clients left a trail of dirty syringes, blood and human feces.

Unable to find a new location for the exchange, a mobile unit has been set up. The number of needles being handed out is down significantly and the return rate is also down. That’s a concern to public health officials as re-using and sharing needles puts people at risk of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.

good news British Columbia 7th Annual Daymaker Day w/ the Megahair Family:

Thanks for the tip off Miss 604 good newshairstyle looks like a dogs head

Thursday April 28th is Daymaker Day in Vancouver and one group is setting out to make the day of sick kids, their families, and their caregivers at BC Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, Easter Seal House, Sunny Hill Health Centre and SOS Children’s Village. They will be offered complimentary haircuts, nail painting, hand massages and stress relieving treatments courtesy of Megahair Family.

good news Canada United States Store decoys cut underage smoking, study finds:child smoking a cigarette

Currently, Canada, the U.S. and Australia are the only countries that enforce bans on sales of tobacco to minors.

“Given similar results from long-term enforcement efforts in Australia, other countries should be encouraged to adopt the World Health Organization Framework on Tobacco Control strategies to reduce the sale of tobacco to minors,” the study’s authors conclude.

Statistics Canada reported an estimated 15 per cent of teenagers smoked either occasionally or daily in 2006, compared to 18 per cent each year from 2003 to 2005.

bad news Alberta Debate on Alberta health insurance overhaul boils over:

“Alberta Health Minister Ron Liepert … made a big splash this week — even by his infamous ‘Rockin’ Ron’ standards — when he declared that because the province’s healthcare costs are growing at an unsustainable rate, some medical services currently covered by the public insurance plan would have to be ‘de-listed’.”

Last week, Liepart announced that the province “would cease coverage for sex reassignment surgeries, a change which would save the province $700,000 per year”.bad news I’m not sure why the Health Minister chose to highlight that particular cut to Alberta Healthcare. Was it a political decision to start the discussion of cuts with an appeal to right wing bigotry? Perhaps the hope was that the entire discussion would become aboot LGBT rights. But of course that’s all speculation.

bad news Ontario Reports expose holes in Canada’s food safety system:

To strengthen the ability of public health systems to respond quickly and effectively to food-borne illness outbreaks, Williams recommended several steps:
  • The federal government should consider expanding regional capacity to do molecular fingerprinting tests of bacterial strains — a tool that’s moved from research into more standardized use — rather than always sending samples to federal laboratories in Winnipeg and Ottawa for testing.
  • The Ontario Public Health Laboratory’s capacity to test and monitor bacterial strains should be expanded.
  • Local public health units should be educated about the best sampling techniques to improve testing timelines and manage outbreaks better, given that hundreds of brands of foods are now shipped across the country.
  • Improve the co-ordination of information and advice in managing outbreaks between federal and provincial inspectors and public health agencies, including labs.

good news Canada’s surprising proposal for fast tracking new drugs to patients:

From Canada, the land of long health care queues, comes a genuinely promising idea for speeding new medicines into the hands of patients—a fast track approval process called progressive licensing. Which is exactly what the U.S. needs. In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved only 19 new drugs, the lowest number since 1983. Last year saw a minor uptick to just 24 new medicines.

In 2007, Health Canada, the Canadian government’s lead agency on health care issues, launched a national discussion on how to transform the country’s drug approval system.

bad news Canada Fact: If you have Chinese drywall in your house you could die:

How do you know that you have it in your home? Well if you can’t tell by the immediate stink of rotten eggs there are some health issues:
  • Nose bleeds
  • Headaches
  • Coughs
  • Upper respiratory or sinus issues
  • Eye irritation
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Aching body
  • Rashes
  • Family pets may have died

good news Ontario Toronto eyes rebates to cut lead in water:

“Toronto’s works committee has approved a plan to help low-income residents limit the lead in their drinking water and is considering options to help all homeowners pay for lead pipe replacement”.

The rebate, which still requires council approval, would be available to certain “at risk” groups – including homes with a child under 6 or pregnant woman present, and those with a household income less than $50,000.

Successful applicants would get an annual $100 rebate toward the cost of certified, faucet-mounted filters and replacement cartridges.

The offer would be available to homeowners who still have city-owned lead water lines.
About 65,000 homes – most built prior to the mid-1950s – have lead service connections. Lead leaching into drinking water is considered a health hazard, particularly to young children and pregnant women.

bad news British Columbia In BC, Being a Nurse Can Be Hell:

“Assaults, abuse blamed on workplace climate, cuts and staff shortages.”

Nurses in British Columbia were more likely to report on-the-job abuse than their colleagues in other provinces, according to figures released by Statistics Canada this morning.

In B.C., 39 per cent of nurses providing direct care in hospitals or long-term care facilities reported having been physically assaulted on the job during the previous 12 months, based on a survey conducted in 2005. That was well above the Canadian average of 34 per cent and lower than only one province, Newfoundland and Labrador.

The number of B.C. nurses reporting emotional abuse from patients on the job was 53 per cent, compared to a national average of 47 per cent. The only province where a higher rate of nurses reported emotional abuse was Manitoba.

bad news Canada Health Canada, Asbestos, and the 2009 Budget:

It’s now well established in the news that Health Canada deliberately and shamefully, if obediently (the CMA Journal thinks the orders came from the Prime Minister’s Office), attempted to anti-democratically suppress an expert report concluding that chrysotile asbestos, the only type Canada still manufactures and which is exported because the domestic markets consider it too unsafe and carcinogenic for normal use, is after all carcinogenic and dangerous to human health. This would presumably take away our last good excuse for not agreeing to register chrysotile on international covenants banning free trade in such hazardous chemicals.

Plenty of other people have already hit on the key problem here, which is the hypocrisy of our foreign policy on this subject: pompous rhetoric proclaiming Canada the defender of health and security and good things everywhere, while we fight efforts to put asbestos on the Rotterdam Convention because it causes cancer and therefore must be restricted.

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