Roger Collier | CMAJ | June 23, 2017

  • There were more hospitalizations in Canada for alcohol-related harm than for heart attacks in 2015-2016, according to a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Rates of heavy drinking are higher than average in Quebec, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Preventing suicides in Indigenous communities will require a comprehensive approach that takes into account social, economic and cultural factors, stated Breaking Point: The Suicide Crisis in Indigenous Communities, a report by the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs. The report lists 28 recommendations, including an overhaul of child and family services, funding to improve housing, and collaboration between federal and provincial governments to boost economic development and job creation.
  • There will soon be consultations in Ontario about whether drug companies should be required to disclose all payments made to physicians, announced Dr. Eric Hoskins, the province’s health minister. Hoskins’ announcement followed the voluntary disclosure of data from 10 drug companies that revealed $50 million in payments to Canadian health care professionals and organizations in 2016.
  • Almost half of Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, stated a report released by the Canadian Cancer Society. The lifetime risk for men is 49% and for women is 45%.
  • There is a shortage of injectable sodium bicarbonate in Canada following voluntary recalls over concerns of microbial contamination by the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer Canada. The drug is used during open heart surgeries, in treatment of acidemia and in patients with organ failure.
  • The Ontario Medical Association voted in favour (65% to 35%) of a deal to send contract disputes with the Ontario government to binding arbitration. The deal would prevent the government from taking unilateral actions, such as cutting fees for medical services, when contract negotiations break down.
  • A quarter of organs used in transplant surgeries in the first six weeks of 2016 in British Columbia came from people who died from opioid overdoses, reported B.C. Transplant. This is the first year the agency has been tracking the correlation between opioid deaths and deceased organ donors.
  • Ontario will offer genital-reconstruction surgery in 2018 at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. Vaginoplasties and phalloplasties are currently available only at a private clinic in Montreal, which has not been able to keep up with growing demand for the procedures.
  • An outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) in southern Alberta is being attributed by health officials to low immunization rates in some areas.
  • A video of an Ontario woman at a walk-in clinic demanding a “white doctor” who “doesn’t have brown teeth” and “speaks English” went viral and provoked widespread outrage. This incident of racism in health care, covered in media in the United States and the United Kingdom, is not an isolated case  in Canada, according to Dr. Nadia Alam,  the president-elect of the Ontario Medical Association.

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