Dr. Michael Pollanen is the Chief Forensic Pathologist at the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service
I have recently returned from a humanitarian forensic medicine mission in Iraq. The autopsies I performed gave me some insight into how people die in Baghdad die. My observations in the autopsy room are witness to the major cost of war and terrorism on a civilian population. I concentrate on the 6 most frequent types of preventable deaths that I encountered, many of which would not occur - or would not occur to the same extent- in Canada or other parts of the Western world.
Although my mission to Iraq was focused on the application of forensic pathology to the protection of Human Rights, during my time in Iraq I was struck by the observation that Iraq is a society embedded in conflict. It was once the major cultural and intellectual centre of the Middle East. Yet due to recent wars and internal armed conflict with terrorists, Iraq now faces problems with the safety and security of the population and a widening gap between people who have and do not have access to the essentials of daily life, justice and health care ...continue reading →
Nobody could have predicted the desperate state in Syria when the World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians (WONCA) Europe Conference for 2015 was awarded to the Turkish Family Medicine Organisation (TAHUD) a few years ago. Few could also have predicted that Turkey would be at the very centre of a mass exodus of people not seen in Europe since the Second World War. According to the UNHCR as of September 2015 the country now finds itself providing refuge to an estimated 2 million Syrians fleeing conflict and destitution. I have heard the current situation being described as a ‘stress test’ of the European values of solidarity and collegiality, ...continue reading →
I have just returned from South Africa, where I had the honour of delivering a plenary presentation on building primary care research capacity at the Primafamed (Africa) Network Conference. The meeting was attended by representatives from the family medicine departments of institutions in Sub-Saharan African countries.
Family medicine is in fledgling stage in most of these nations. With some overseas aid and support, the Primafamed project has developed family medicine training programmes in ten universities. (1,2) They have had the opportunity to learn from what works well in resource-rich countries, see that vertical progression from undergraduate to postgraduate training is important and that collaboration with other institutions, other disciplines and stakeholders including their provincial or national departments of health and policy-makers are vital components. ...continue reading →