European adventure is over
Canadian Medical Association President Dr Robert Ouellet (right) is back from his European sojourn and ready to draft a "made in Canada" healthcare plan based on his observations from the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Belgium, which all employ more private insurance and private delivery of care than Canada does. Dr Ouellet said, "Europeans face short, or no, wait times, yet spend less money on health care than Canada." [CMA news release]
Dr Ouellet also mentioned his desire to see a junk food tax enacted in Canada.
The Canadian Health Coalition's Michael McBane said Dr Ouellet was "cherry-picking" aspects of the European systems that fit his objectives. "He wants a Swedish health care system on American tax rates," Mr McBane told the National Post. "That's completely disingenuous. I would argue it's intellectually dishonest." [National Post]
Linda Silas, the president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, wrote to the Post to say that innovative practices can be developed here without adopting a European-style system. "A tour of different facilities in Canada will show how wait lists can be eliminated." [National Post]
"Rather than focus on privatization, perhaps Dr. Ouellet should look more closely at how European nations have improved their public, non-profit systems to benefit patients," said Dr Chris Mackie, a member of the Canadian Doctors for Medicare board, in a release. "We can learn a lot from countries that pay for prescription drugs and dental care. We should also study how other countries have managed to implement electronic health records and nurse-led primary care clinics. The focus on privatization -- not surprising given Dr. Ouellet's history as an owner of a chain of private radiology centres -- is an unfortunate bias that distracts us from the innovations we need to make within Medicare." [Canadian Doctors for Medicare news release]
Budget brain drain fears
The 2009 federal budget's failure to increase direct funding for scientific research could contribute to a brain drain away from Canada, warned University of Western Ontario VP-Research Ted Hewitt.
"We are building the labs, we are building the offices... and we have top people at Western and certainly elsewhere who are ready, willing and able to do world-class research. But, they desperately need the operating funding to help pay for grad students, for research assistants, to pay for technicians and the basic laboratory supplies." [Western News]
McGill researchers proposed a novel method of "starving" tumours by cutting off the blood supply. [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PDF)]
Using a potential antithrombotic drug called Diannexin, the researchers managed to prevent mice's tumours from growing. "The molecule we used is effective both in vitro and in vivo. It prevents the formation of new blood vessels in mice with cancer and therefore strongly inhibits tumour growth," said Dr Janusz Rak. [McGill news release]
A particular genetic profile indicates a 2.25-times higher risk of suffering a heart attack, according to a new study published by a team of Canadian and British researchers led by McMaster University professor Dr Sonia Anand. [Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics abstract]
"The unique contribution of our study is that we demonstrate that common genetic variants are indeed common across 5 ethnic groups," said Dr Anand in a release. "Furthermore, we are able to put the contribution of these factors on the risk of heart attack into perspective, demonstrating that the nine risk factors account for the vast majority of heart attacks and the genetic variants while important only add a small independent contribution to the risk of heart attack." [McMaster news release]
There's something fishy about Newfoundland research
One of the hippest trends in health research and other scientific research these days is "knowledge mobilization" -- getting research findings to clinicians in the trenches.
Memorial University today announced a new knowledge mobilization initiative, an online portal intended to increase accessibility to the school's research, named Yaffle. [Memorial University news release]
Acting school president Eddy Campbell called the oddly named project "Newfoundland and Labrador's answer to Google, and a cause for celebration," according to the Voice of the Common Man, a Newfoundland AM radio news station (590 on your dial). [VOCM]
Yaffle, which will connect Newfoundland residents with information about medical and scientific research going on in their communities, is named after a word found in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English that means "An armful (of dried and salted cod-fish, kindling, etc); a load."
That's not the only definition for the term, though. It can also be used as a verb, as in "To gather an armful (of dried and salted cod, kindling, etc)"; to refer to someone who eats greedily, as British poet Peter Reading does; as a name for the European green woodpecker; or, perhaps, as a word meaning "to give oral sex to a male."
Photo: Liam Maloney, National Review of Medicine
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
European adventure is over