Tag Archives: Kirsten Patrick

Patrick_Kirsten_headshotCrop4Kirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ

 

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

Kirsten_headshotKirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ

 

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, legally binding 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

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Kirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ

 

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.

We have aired a broad spectrum of views on this forum in the lead up to the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision on Carter vs. the Attorney General, released this morning. Even CMAJ’s editors are divided in their personal opinions. We have discussed our personal views in many an editorial meeting, and CMAJ’s Editor-In-Chief, John Fletcher, put me on the spot to declare my position publicly when we were recording the podcast for the November 18th issue of the journal.

Many Canadian physicians will feel unhappy about the decision, perhaps even angry ...continue reading

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Kirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ

 

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

Kirsten_headshotKirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ

 

Today, 12/12/14, sees 533 partners in 103 countries participating in events to mark the first ever World Universal Health Coverage Day.

Supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation,  12/12 marks the anniversary of the unanimous UN resolution, 2 years ago, that endorsed Universal Health Coverage as a priority for sustainable development.

The aim is to highlight the need to improve the effectiveness and accessibility of heath care worldwide. Why? As this (slightly UK-focused) video from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine elegantly illustrates ...continue reading

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Kirsten_headshotKirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ

 

There's a quote from the film 'When Harry Met Sally', (Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal) that I always thought was rather profound. One of the supporting characters, a writer, says,

Restaurants are to people in the eighties what theatre was to people in the sixties.

That dates the movie, and me, but how much more true it is now, I think. In the past three or four decades food has come to define us socially and has evolved into entertainment more and more.

Earlier this week Dr John Fletcher and I published an editorial in CMAJ called 'A political prescription is needed to treat obesity', which garnered some criticism from two high profile Canadian bloggers. Dr Brian Goldman of CBC's "White Coat Black Art", only mildly critical, suggested that the idea of a donut tax was impractical given the ease of cross border shopping for Canadians. Dr Arya Sharma, who writes the daily blog "Dr Sharma's Obesity Notes", was far more derisive . Dr Sharma misinterprets our editorial and suggests that we are naively arguing that taxation and regulation of  high-calorie and nutrient-poor food products is the ONLY viable approach to the obesity epidemic. Which, clearly, it is not. We are in no way in denial about the need for a multi-pronged, multi-generational approach in response to rising obesity.  In fact, perhaps Dr Sharma did not read the whole editorial before pronouncing judgement as we clearly state: "Strategies that include individual interventions, school-based nutrition and activity interventions, incentives for active commuting and changes to thebuilt environment should continue; however, we also need robust ways to restrict portion sizes and reduce the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages and other high-calorie, nutrient-poor food products."

The problem of population level obesity is multifactorial and has been decades in evolution. Political solutions that involve laws and taxation will take years to show benefits - and obviously effective treatment and lifestyle-choice solutions will continue to be necessary. But that does not mean that we shouldn't back political solutions as part of a more comprehensive strategy for treating obesity and NCDs in the longer term. ...continue reading

Kirsten_headshotKirsten Patrick is a deputy editor at CMAJ

 

Health care professionals need to learn to do more to encourage self-expression in healing.

Watching Friday’s TEDMED session entitled ‘Weird and Wonderful’ I was humbled by talks by two non-medics who have done wonderful creative things that have vastly improved the lives of patients.

First up was Bob Carey. I had never heard of Bob Carey before – WHY had I never heard of Bob Carey before? – so I was surprised to see a middle-aged man standing on the TEDMED stage in a pink tutu and nothing else. He said, “I’m a commercial photographer …and I have been photographing myself for over 20 years as a form of self-therapy because that’s what I do; when things get hard I go take pictures of myself…and it’s a lot cheaper than real therapy...” He transforms himself through photography into something that he is ‘not’ and that helps him to get out of himself, he says. In 2003 his wife, Linda, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and Bob started to take pictures of himself wearing a pink tutu in beautiful landscapes. What started out as a way of expressing his inner discomfort and difficult feelings and sharing his wife’s experience, grew, through self-publication of a book, into the Tutu Project. ...continue reading

Kirsten_headshotKirsten Patrick is deputy editor at CMAJ

Breastfeeding? Really? At TEDMED? C’mon breastfeeding is as old as humanity and we know everything there is to know about its benefits (just not how to make moms stick to it), right? How did breastfeeding end up as a topic of a TEDMED talk in a session called ‘TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN’ that I live-streamed this morning?

Well, as the speaker, Eleanor 'Bimla' Schwarz, pointed out we’ve been missing a trick in our thinking and communicating about the benefits of breastfeeding. We’ve been talking all about the benefits for the baby but we've failed to move beyond "it helps you lose the baby weight" when it comes to talking up the benefits for mom. ...continue reading

Kirsten_headshotKirsten Patrick is a Deputy Editor at CMAJ, currently at the IEA World Congress of Epidemiology in Anchorage, Alaska

 

The 20th International Epidemiology Association World Congress being held in Anchorage, Alaska, this week is focusing on global epidemiology in a changing environment, and particularly, delegates are discussing and learning about the epidemiological effects of climate change. While much research being presented in concurrent sessions and posters is the usual mix of national and regional epidemiology (infectious diseases, nutritional diseases, cancer…), and epidemiological methods research (always interesting to a journal editor), the ‘circumpolar perspective’ is the subject of many sessions. What is happening in the world’s frozen regions as a result of climate change?

It may or may not surprise you to hear that people who live in areas that are frozen year-round aren’t high-fiving each other about the mean increase in temperature of 3°C. They aren’t throwing off their traditional fur clothing in celebration. This is because communities are being destroyed by warming in polar regions. ...continue reading

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Kirsten Patrick is a Deputy Editor at CMAJ

I’ve come back to competitive swimming in the last couple of years, as a Master. Although I enjoyed a youth spent in the water, I can't fully identify with the T-shirt slogan I've seen this week, “I used to be faster; now I’m a Master!” I didn't find myself motivated to set competition goals when I was 14, sadly. Having had a pretty good 2013/14 training season I am about as fast as I was when I last competed as a teen. Last week I had the opportunity to compete in the 15th FINA World Masters Swimming Champs in Montreal, Canada, which someone told me is the largest aquatic event to be held in the Americas, ever.

While some things do not change – e.g. familiar anxiety, with its negative consequences – aches and pains are more worrisome than they were 25 years ago, ‘recovery’ is slower, and, since improving as you age is pretty unlikely, my main (and realistic) aim is to slow the rate of decline rather than to ride a trajectory of gradual improvement.

That said, this week, I’ve seen some truly inspiring swims, and also some nigh-unbelievable race times achieved by swimmers who are a lot older than me. The oldest participant in the 3km open water event was an incredible 87. The oldest participant in the pool swimming division was a 97 year old lady who had traveled from New Zealand! She looked 75. There were women in the 90+ category in all the swimming events INCLUDING the 400m individual medley and the 200m butterfly (in which one aged 90 set a new world record of 8min 52sec ....I couldn’t swim 200m fly NOW so the thought of swimming fly for nearly nine minutes at the age of 90 boggles the mind!). There were two 95-year-old men and there were men in the 90+ categories in most events. A lovely 87 year old man from my club competed and won a pair of silver medals. There were some pretty old participants in the diving category too. Scary to watch.

Looking at the results I can dream that if I work really hard at slowing the decline (to a rate of zero…okay who am I kidding?) I could, for example, swim the 200m individual medley in my current time at this meet in 20 years time – and medal!

Clearly these inspiring seniors are a healthy lot, enjoying the benefits of partaking in regular aerobic and strength-building exercise over many years. Yet it seemed to me that there are benefits of competitive/club exercise, aside from direct cardiovascular health related ones, when you are growing older. If you are introverted like me, being in a sports club helps you to connect with people in a less-stressful way than regular socializing. I see the power of the swim club in the way that the older members of my own swim club care for and encourage each other. I’ve seen it at the Masters Champs. Most people are not there to win, or to medal. Most are team mates who have made a journey half way around the world together. They have fun with each other and support each other, cheer each other on, say ‘Good job!’ even if a swimmer comes in way off their PB. At other, more accessible, events I have seen swimmers in the over-80-&-90 years age categories that are in wheelchairs on poolside, who can still swim a race and may hope to set a new record.

Heavy picOn the last weekend of #FINAMasters2014, we shared Parc Jean Drapeau with festival-goers attending the Heavy Montreal event. It made for an interesting contrast. Hundreds of lean, older, healthy, lightly clad athletes drinking fruit smoothies, alongside thousands of heavy metal fans wearing heavy jackets in the hot sun, arriving on Harleys, drinking mainly copious alcohol and filling the air with tobacco and marijuana smoke. Populations drawn from different demographics.

That got me thinking about the older competitive swimmer demographic, or at least the crowd that managed to get themselves to the World Champs. We’re looking at a privileged bunch – that much is clear. They have enough money to travel a long way to compete. They have enough leisure to put in hours and hours of training; many can afford to hire personal trainers to help them with land training as well as pay fees that come with Masters swim club membership (registration with a Masters club was a requirement for entry). Some could afford to bring their spouses and kids along too. I noticed that the only competitors who came from Africa were from South Africa and Egypt. The majority came from Canada (‘home country’) and the United States, with large contingents from wealthier European countries, Japan and Australia. South American countries were quite well represented. I didn’t see a single black person competing (although I’m not saying I saw every competitor), which seemed odd.

Kirsten competing in a relay event (centre)

Kirsten competing in a relay event (centre)

So when admiring the obviously superior health and wellbeing of Masters Swimmers, it is prudent to remember what’s known about the associations between socio-economic advantage, good health and longevity. I’m still in awe of the 80+ and 90+ year old swimmers who came to compete at Worlds this year. They are an inspiration. I hope to be a 90-year-old competitor myself someday. That’s a good intention to have. “If you can’t beat ‘em outlive ‘em,” they say 😉 Yet I recognize that alongside all effort of training hard and eating healthily, the long term health of my body depends on other factors, too, like my income, many childhood advantages, education, genetic factors, and luck. I’d like to develop another intention, too – to encourage people who don’t think swimming is ‘for them’ to try it. Hopefully, by the time I’m competing in the 80+ age groups, Masters swimming will represent a broader demographic.