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Roger Collier | CMAJ | January 26, 2017

  • Canada is investing $162 million over four years for new projects in genomics and precision health, announced Genome Canada. The research will be in multiple disease areas and “demonstrate how genomics-based research can contribute to a more evidence-based approach to health.”
  • The federal government announced more than $1 million in funding for 14 research projects to study the impacts of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The areas of study include the effect of cannabis use in Indigenous communities, and among pregnant women and teenagers.
  • More than 40,000 people in Ontario were started on high doses of prescription opioids in 2016, according to a new report by Health Quality Ontario. Most of the prescriptions, 86%, were written by family doctors, surgeons and dentists.
  • Health outcomes at the population level would improve if governments shifted spending from health care to social services, found a CMAJ study. An increase of one cent in funding for social services for every dollar spent on health care was associated with 0.1% decrease in “potentially avoidable mortality” and a 0.01% increase in life expectancy.
  • An Ontario health network is looking to hire a medical assistance in dying navigator. The South West Local Health Integration Network created the position to help patients and family understand the laws and rules around assisted dying.
  • Nova Scotia will not introduce an interim billing code for the abortion pill Mifegymiso as a “quick fix” to improve access to the drug, announced Randy Delorey, the province’s health minister. But the province has expedited a review of an application for a new code, as requested by physicians who say the existing billing structure doesn’t compensate them adequately for the process involved in prescribing the drug.
  • A New England Journal of Medicine study led by Ontario researchers found a “significant association between respiratory infections, especially influenza, and acute myocardial infarction.” A person is six times more likely to have a heart attack in the week after being diagnosed with influenza compared to a year before or after the infection.
  • A program to provide better medical care for transgender patients at the University of Alberta will be the first of its kind in the prairie provinces. The Gender Health Program will focus on training, research and medicine in gender health.
  • The Ontario government should increase spending on home care by $600 million to meet growing demand, according to a white paper by Home Care Ontario. Other recommendations include developing a provincial standard of care and creating a comprehensive human resource strategy for home care.
  • Seventeen public health schools in the United States and Canada have pledged to reject funding from an anti-smoking group funded by the tobacco company Philip Morris. The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World was created last year and received almost $1 billion from Philip Morris.

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