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Measles, organ donation, chronic pain, and more in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • Nova Scotia tabled legislation that would make it the first jurisdiction in North America to have presumed consent for organ and tissue donation. Under the bill, people must opt out of donating their organs, except for children and youth under age 19 and those unable to consent for themselves.
  • The federal government will establish the Canadian Pain Task Force to “provide insight on how to better prevent, treat and manage chronic pain.” Ginette Petitpas, the federal health minister, announced the task force at the annual scientific meeting of the Canadian Pain Society.
  • Health care professionals held 16 rallies across Canada to call for stricter gun control laws to reduce gun-related deaths and injuries. The rallies were organized by Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns.
  • Ottawa saw its first confirmed case of measles in three years. As of March 23, there were 28 confirmed cases of measles in Canada (in Quebec, BC, NWT, Ontario and Alberta).
  • Health Canada flagged Biocell textured breast implants made by Allergan for safety issues and will pull them from market unless the company provides new evidence that they are safe. Of 28 cases of anaplastic large cell lymphoma associated with breast implants reported to Health Canada, 24 involved Allergan’s textured products.
  • The Ontario Medical Association launched a public awareness campaign to dispel myths about vaccination. Toronto Public Health also needs to develop a strategy to combat the spread of vaccine misinformation, according to Toronto’s medical officer of health.
  • Access to medical assistance in dying is unequal across Quebec, reported the province’s commission on end-of-life care. There have been 1632 assisted deaths in Quebec since 2015 but access differed widely by region.
  • Access to Mifegymiso (mifepristone-misoprostol) has decreased demand for surgical abortions at the only standalone abortion clinic on Vancouver Island. The “great majority” of patients at the clinic are now opting to terminate pregnancies with the drug rather than surgery.
  • The Ontario government announced it will consult with parents of children with autism. The province had faced protests from parents after capping annual reimbursements for autism therapies at $20,000 for children under six and $5000 for older children until they turn 18.
  • The Gairdner Foundation announced its 2019 Canada Gairdner Award laureates for seminal discoveries or contributions to biomedical science. The winners’ research has contributed to better understanding, and sometimes new therapies, in areas such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, genetic mutations and genome instability.

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