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A national health database, new stats on medically assisted deaths, and more in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • The federal government announced funding for a national health database that will provide researchers access to administrative, clinical and social data from across the country. The government announced $81 million in funding over seven years for the project, called the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Canadian Data Platform.
  • There were at least 2614 medically assisted deaths in 2018 from the beginning of January to the end of October, stated the federal government’s Fourth Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada. This represented 1.12% of all deaths during the period.
  • The federal government announced several projects aimed at improving vaccination rates across the country. One project is national (in association with the Canadian Association of Midwives) and the others are in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Quebec.
  • Canadian provinces are failing to provide people with obesity adequate access to obesity medications and bariatric surgery, according to the Report Card on Access to Obesity Treatment for Adults in Canada 2019. The report card, released by Obesity Canada, also notes that no province officially recognizes obesity as a chronic disease.
  • The number of Canadian veterans who served in Afghanistan receiving federal support for mental health problems increased from 3200 to 6700 between March 2014 and March 2018, reported The Canadian Press. Most of the veterans are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • The Ontario government proposed cutting the limited public coverage provided to residents for out-of-country medical emergencies. According to the government, only 5% of the cost of a typical medical emergency in another country is covered by the province.
  • British Columbia should decriminalize the use of small amounts of illicit drugs, according to a report from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer of BC. The criminal justice approach to drug policy is an impediment to public health harm-reduction initiatives, states the report.
  • The current rate of gonorrhea infection is five times higher in the North West Territories than in 2013, and the rate of syphilis has increased by a factor of seven, reported the territory’s chief public health officer. However, the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection in the territory is still chlamydia.
  • The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association called upon the province to make a greater effort to retain doctors. Twice as many physicians are leaving the province as are being hired, according to the association.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart expanded its online platform for selling medical cannabis to residents of Alberta. The service was launched in Ontario only in January 2019.

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