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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Canadian Drug Policy and Brave Public Health Professionals lend their voice

Another esteemed group of leading public health have put their support behind reforming public health drug policy in Canada.   Released in Open Medicine March 28 2012, it further builds on the work done by The BC Health Officers Regulating Psychoactive substances and some of the work from done by the Stop the Violence.   This was touched on in DrPHealth Dec 1, 2011

Not surprising one of the authors (Dr. Evan Wood) is associated with the Stop the Violence group and another with the BC health officers (Dr. Perry Kendall). A third author (Dr. Robert Strang) masterminded the Nova Scotia alcohol strategy discussed in DrPHealth October 7, 2011.  The final author (Dr. Moira MacKinnon) is no slouch in facing tough public health issues.  Three of the four are provincial Chief Public Health Officers, and have held their positions for many years, are highly respected in their provinces and therefore more able to speak openly publically on politically sensitive issues. 

Their counterparts in other provinces and at PHAC seem to have relegated their Chiefs to cautiously going on public display when politically convenient.  No doubt all of them work diligently in the back corridors of their respective governments to influence health policy.  It is not surprising to hear colleagues who question where is the provincial CMHO?  As Manitoba’s ex-CMHO (Dr. Joel Kettner) knows only too well, the current populist governments are not keen on public scrutiny.  Occasionally this site gets inquiries why it insists on providing a voice of anonymity to public health professionals who can be under the political microscope. 

On the other hand the public health community is somewhat incestuous and not surprising that convergence of thought is beginning to occur around the drug policy topic. Good that the authors have reached out to a new audience with the message.

The contents of the Open Medicine article are reiterations of work already released but previously have not been subjected to a scientific peer review process.  Open Medicine is a predominately Canadian entity with global aspirations and an electronically based medical journal targeting mainstream health care.  In this respect the publication of the article targets the recipients of the current failed drug policy approaches – clinic offices, emergency rooms, and hospitals. 

Kudos to these voices of public health that have spoken up from the wilderness and carried a politically sensitive message to health professionals more broadly, and to the media nationally CBC coverage of publication  

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