Kirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ. She is currently attending the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) annual meeting in Colorado Springs, CO.
In the plenary session on providing primary care for refugees, one of the speakers, Kim Griswold, shared an image, now familiar to many, that is designed to help people to understand the difference between equality and equity. It demonstrates how some people start off at a relative disadvantage and need extra help to be able to achieve or access things that more advantaged people are able to experience easily. This image, and similar ones, have been criticized by some social justice thinkers who point out that ...continue reading →
Yes I did wake up at 3 am today and think, "I'll just check the U.S. election results..." and boy do I regret not going to bed earlier because there was no sleeping after that. Since 3am I’ve read at least a hundred articles analyzing the election’s outcome. I’ve been openly “with her” throughout the campaign. I’m a UK citizen living in Canada so nobody cares, but I'm a woman and the misogyny that the campaign has brought into sharp focus has upset me greatly, so I care. It means I’ve been zipping back and forth through the stages of loss for the past few hours. ...continue reading →
For the past two-and-a-bit days I’ve been privileged to be able to attend the Canadian Paediatric Society annual meeting. I love this community of physicians. They come across as the most optimistic, caring and forward-thinking group. Participants always come with families and even small babies in tow. They seem to be, without exception, interested in improving the wellbeing of every child not just some kids. I always leave the conference feeling uplifted by what I have heard and learned, and hopeful about the strategies being developed by the CPS.
This morning I woke up to discover that #Brexit was no longer something abstract that I was pretty sure couldn’t possibly happen, but something real that a 52% majority of people in a country of which I am a citizen decided was something they’d like to try. My social media feeds were full of peoples’ shock and disbelief; clearly my friends and acquaintances voted as I did ...continue reading →
Much as I love the Harry Potter books and love reading them to my kids, they’re a little too fictional for my taste, and I’m not talking about the magic. Thing is… kids who grow up with the chronic stress of abuse and near-starvation in their formative years seldom – actually pretty much never - go on to be high-functioning, top-of-their-class children with great self-restraint and a well-functioning moral compass. If you heap adversity on a child you’re more likely to get a Neville Longbottom / Tom Riddle mix, not our beloved Harry. So there’s something about me that feels awkward about feeding the Harry Potter fiction to my kids.
This morning I swam at my local YMCA with Canada’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Change. Minister McKenna and I belong to the same Masters Swim Club. I don’t see her as much as I used to….well, I see a great many photos of her on my Twitter and Facebook feeds, but I don’t see her much in the pool. She's a busy lady and last week she attended the ceremony for the signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement on behalf of Canada at UN Headquarters in New York. It was Earth Day – 22 April – and 175 Parties (174 countries and the European Union) signed up to the agreement that day. This number of signatories far exceeded the historical record for first-day signatures to an international agreement. It was joyous occasion in which Canada could and did participate with pride. Like a wedding on a perfect spring day.
But just as a wedding is an ideal thing and marriage a real thing, and confusing the ideal with the real never goes unpunished ...continue reading →
What sort of research would we be doing if medical research were crowdfunded? Sarah Knowles from Manchster believes that too much research money is wasted on studies that don’t deliver. Some don’t even manage to recruit the desired number of participants. Many funded research studies aren’t studying a question that is of importance to patient stakeholders. Sarah, a researcher in primary care mental health (“We compete with disability research for who gets the least funding!”) strongly advocates for crowdfunding of research. Think Kickstarter. She says it’s the way to ensure public engagement and patient voice in medical research; she points out that whenever she mentions it to other researchers they usually balk. She thinks this probably has to do with fear that we don’t possess adequate ability to communicate why our research is important and to make a compelling case for funding.
Sarah was the last of a panel of speakers at a session on day 2 of #sapcasm entitled “Dangerous Ideas”. The session was modeled on the reality show Dragons’ Den. Speakers pitched their ideas at the audience for five minutes and then the audience had five minutes to throw questions and comments at the speakers (to which they could respond).
Today, World Bank HQ hosted a round table discussion on plans for ‘Ebola Recovery’ in West Africa. Heads of state of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three countries that still have cases of Ebola, were present and outlined their recovery plans to finance and development ministers and international partners. The event aimed to “build global support for the three Ebola-affected countries to get to and sustain zero cases, jumpstart recovery and build more resilient health systems and economies.” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced that the WB Group would be donating $650 million towards the Ebola Recovery effort; he also noted that a ‘Catastrophe, Containment and Relief’ trust fund has been set up to co-ordinate funds from other donors (fundraising continues).
Now that Ebola cases are declining, the epidemic seems to have been well-contained and the world’s media are no longer very interested in Ebola, why is so much money being pledged anew to the cause? The answer ...continue reading →
Today, February 27th 2015, marks the tenth anniversary of the coming into force of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (#FCTC10). To mark the historic treaty's first decade the WHO's Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, gave an address in which she called the FCTC the 'single most powerful preventive instrument available to public health'. She wasn't exaggerating. I'll tell you why.
The FCTC was the first, and remains the only, legallybinding multilateral agreement ratified by WHO member states. Most of WHO's directives are delivered with the all the authority of a global governance institution but with none of the legal teeth that multilateral trade agreements, for example, enjoy. ...continue reading →
Today is a momentous day for physicians in Canada. No matter what your opinion about whether or not physician assisted dying is morally right, it will be a human right henceforth under certain circumstances.
Yesterday, after a long public consultation by the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority and a heated debate and vote in the English House of Commons, it began to seem likely that the UK will be the first country to allow the practice of mitochondrial transfer (albeit with safeguards). If the House of Lords approves it, this will result in an amendment to the UK’s 2008 law regulating IVF, embryological manipulation and pre-implantation genetic therapies. We’re effectively seeing glimmerings of a green light for the creation of ‘three-parent babies’ in the UK.
I've been following this process closely. Once I understood the reason WHY mitochondrial transfer is important in the prevention of certain serious diseases of mitochondrial DNA, I felt convinced that legalising it was the right thing to do. ...continue reading →