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Federal budget health promises, new concussion guidelines for Olympic athletes, a position statement on treatment for Lyme disease, and more in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • The 2019 federal budget earmarked funding to address several health initiatives, including suicide prevention, addressing the opioid crisis and creating a national drug agency. Other areas of health allocated money in the budget include dementia, food security, organ donation, infertility and blood plasma donation.
  • People with persistent symptoms of Lyme disease should not receive prolonged courses of antibiotics, according to a position statement published this week by the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada, which states that antibiotic therapy doesn’t improve patient outcomes and can have adverse effects, including antibiotic resistance.
  • The Canadian Olympic Committee announced new guidelines to assess and treat sports-related concussions in Olympic athletes. The guidelines outline how to recognize a sports-related concussion, call for immediate removal from training or competition if concussion is suspected, and provide instructions for post-concussion management.
  • The Ontario government is considering lifting a ban on in-house prescription medications for pharmacy chains. The ban was put in place to prevent pharmacy chains from putting their own brand on generic drugs and raising the prices.
  • The Quebec government released its budget, which included $215 million a year to increase staffing levels at residential and long-term care facilities and $280 million a year to increase home care and support services. New funding was also earmarked to support informal caregivers and increase services provided by nurse practitioners.
  • British Columbia is launching a “catch-up immunization” program in schools. Students from kindergarten to Grade 12 will be able to receive the measles vaccine in schools from public health nurses.
  • Women in Saskatchewan should have free access to the abortion pill Mifegymiso, according to medical students in the province. The Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan petitioned the provincial government for universal coverage of the drug, which can cost $300–$450.
  • A shortage of paramedics and ambulance dispatchers in British Columbia is at “unprecedented levels,” according to the Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of BC. The organization says paramedics in the province have some of the largest workloads in Canada and many are experiencing burnout.
  • New Brunswick’s chief medical officer warned the public that furanyl-fentanyl may be available in the province after the drug was detected in a person who recently died. People who use drugs may not be aware of the presence of furanyl-fentanyl, which can cause fatalities in small doses, warned the medical officer.
  • There are too many unfilled pharmacist positions in Quebec health facilities, according to the Association des pharmaciens des établissements de santé du Québec. About 19% of these positions are unfilled, which has put added pressure on pharmacists in the province’s health centres.

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