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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Canada’s physicians speaking out on determinants of health

This week is the annual general meeting of the Canadian Medical Association. To the credit of the CMA, the sessions can be accessed on line and behoove a level of transparency that many governmental entities should emulate http://www.cma.ca/ 

Admittedly some public health folks get very frustrated with individual members of the the medical profession.

Conversely, their voice carries considerable weight in corridors throughout Canada.  They have a strong track record on some public health issues related to child health and environmental health pieces.  

Two pieces in the preamble to the meetings that are worth noting for public health professionals.  A strong statement on acknowledging the linkage between health and wealth, and that the gap is increasing  increasing CMA announcement with link to report   also in CBC story on health and wealth  . The full report provides reasonable detail on inequities as they relate to perceived health, healthy behaviours, health care access and a special focus of the impact of the economic downturn on health. 

The second item of note is the incoming statement of the sixth female president of the 145 year old CMA, and first openly gay president.  A strong advocate for marginalized populations, Dr. Anna Reid’s tenure should be one of particular interest, and hopefully will stir the pot in what has been described as a “grey haired male clique”.  Globe and mail story on CMA president

While the CMA remains interested in health, in opening comments to the CMA conference, Minister Aglukkaq appears to be continuing to convey the Harper governments abandonment of responsibility, both morally and fiscally, to Canada's cultural commitment to universal healthcare.   http://o.canada.com/2012/08/13/base-health-care-debate-on-fact-leona-aglukkaq-tells-canadian-medical-association/

The support and influence of the CMA should not be underestimated, and strategically involvement of the medical profession is a wise choice in advocating for public health improving activities. A statement not supporting an initiative is very difficult to overcome.  The CMA searchable policy database provides access to resolutions, position papers and government briefs.   A quick search on determinants of health displayed 24 policy issues.  

While there may at times be differences in vision of what a future health care system might look like, the CMA and physician community align closely with other public health organizations in the direction of their policy. 

Update:  August 22 - As sent in by a friend, the Globe and Mail carried another worthy posting about the changing of the culture at CMA, worth the read as well.  G and M August 20

One laughable exception to the changing mentality is a comment from a provincial chapter president in speaking to a public health audience – “we do population health, one patient at a time”. This from the same person who recently was noted to be billing close to 3/4 Million per year, and when challenged on live radio replied by saying "I do work 24/7".   Well, perhaps not all the medical profession gets it, fortunately the collective wisdom of the physician community usually prevails.  

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