Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | Mar.3, 2017
- Canada pledged $20 million to offset family-planning funding cuts in the United States. President Donald Trump recently banned international groups funded by the US from providing information about abortion, effectively cutting funding for global health programs by an estimated $600 million.
- Confusion and distribution restrictions are impeding access to the abortion drug mifegymiso. The two-pill combo medication, approved in 2015 for women up to seven-weeks pregnant, is available in only five abortion clinics and a handful of pharmacies in major cities.
- The College of Family Physicians of Canada called for a ban on the use of solitary confinement. The federal government is preparing new restrictions on segregation in prisons, and according to the college, solitary confinement can worsen prisoners’ health, particularly for those with mental illnesses.
- Ontario is struggling to gauge the number of fentanyl deaths because the province lacks a standardized system to track overdoses. Ontario’s health ministry is working with the chief coroner to determine more quickly cause of death in suspected overdose cases.
- Alberta Health Services is developing a mumps information website following recent outbreaks in Edmonton, Calgary and Medicine Hat, including among members of National Hockey League teams. Public health officials in Ontario and Manitoba have also reported spikes in mumps cases.
- Cyberbullying, infighting and intimidation among Ontario doctors has escalated since contract talks with the province broke down in 2016, the Toronto Star reported. To combat disrespect across the profession, the Canadian Medical Association announced it will host a series of town hall meetings on “intraprofessionalism” and focus its annual meeting in Quebec City on “unifying the medical profession.”
- The Ontario Medical Association protested a bill that would give the ministry of health a bigger role in disciplining health professionals, rather than deferring to regulatory colleges. Bill 87 would empower the health minister to make regulations for college disciplinary panels, and to demand personal information about college members as necessary to ensure the college is fulfilling its duties.
- British Columbia health officials are still reviewing the sale of one of the province’s largest retirement home chains to a Chinese investment group, after federal approval of the deal sparked controversy. Anbang Insurance Group previously claimed the transaction had been “rigorously reviewed and fully approved by health authorities in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.”
- More than 6000 people, including members of a tainted-blood survivor group, petitioned the BC government to ban private pay-for-plasma clinics, arguing that the facilities are “harming the voluntary blood system.” Health Minister Terry Lake said that paid donations are necessary to provide reliable blood services and 80% of the province’s current supply of plasma comes from private facilities in the US.
- Administrators at a Quebec City hospital reinstalled a crucifix they had taken down, after thousands of people petitioned, hundreds called to complain, and one incident occurred that officials called a “serious threat.” Administrators at Saint-Sacrement Hospital restored the cross to its original place “at the demand of the health ministry,” alongside a plaque explaining that hospitals are secular institutions.
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