In a pandemic situation, resources in intensive care units may be stretched to the breaking point, and critical care triage may become necessary. In such a situation, I argue that a patient's combined vulnerability to illness and social disadvantage should be a justification for giving that patient some priority for critical care. In this article I present an example of a critical care triage protocol that recognizes the moral relevance of vulnerability to illness and social disadvantage, from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
This study assessed whether US and Canadian smoking reduction objectives for the year 2000 are attainable. The United States seeks to cut smoking in its population to 15%; the Canadian goal is 24%.
Smoking data were obtained for the United States (1974-1994) and Canada (1970-1995) for the overall populations and several age-sex subpopulations. Analyses estimated trends, future prevalences, and the likelihood of goal attainment. Structural time-series models were used because of their ability to fit a variety of trends.
The findings indicate that smoking has been declining steadily since the 1970s, by approximately 0.7 percentage points a year, in both countries. Extrapolating these trends to the year 2000, the US prevalence will be 21% and the Canadian prevalence 24%.
If the current trends continue, the Canadian goal seems attainable, but the US goal does not. The US goal is reachable only for 65-to 80-year-olds, who already have low smoking prevalences. It appears that both countries must increase their commitment to population-based tobacco control.
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In this paper, the authors provide a policy prescription for Canada's aging population. They question the appropriateness of predictions about the lack of sustainability of our healthcare system. The authors note that aging per se will only have a modest impact on future healthcare costs, and that other factors such as increased medical interventions, changes in technology and increases in overall service use will be the main cost drivers. They argue that, to increase value for money, government should validate, as a priority, integrated systems of care delivery for older adults and recognize such systems as a major component of Canada's healthcare system, along with hospitals, primary care and public/population health. They also note a range of mechanisms to enhance such systems going forward. The authors present data and policy commentary on the following topics: ageism, healthy communities, prevention, unpaid caregivers and integrated systems of care delivery.
In Western Hemisphere arctic regions, scientific findings in humans, wildlife, and the environment have resulted in major governmental policy formulations. Government policy resulted in establishment of an effective international organization to address scientifically identified problems, including health disparities in arctic indigenous populations. Western scientific data and indigenous knowledge from initial international programs led to international agreements restricting certain persistent organic pollutants. In recent years, scientific data, and indigenous traditional knowledge, have resulted in governmental policy in the United States, Canada, and Nordic countries that includes the full participation of indigenous residents in defining research agendas, interpreting data, communicating information, and local community policy formulation.
Although rates of tobacco smoking in Canada have dropped dramatically over the last 30 years this is not a global trend. For every tonne of tobacco that Canadian adults gave up between 1970 and 1990, aggressive marketing by multinational tobacco companies has ensured that an additional 20 tonnes is now consumed in developing countries. The authors describe the dilemma faced by policymakers in their efforts to control the epidemic of tobacco smoking in the developing world: although tobacco consumption leads to increased rates of mortality and morbidity and lost productivity, its production creates employment, generates tax revenue and earns foreign exchange. Canadian experience has proved that trends in tobacco consumption can be reversed through policies that address not only health issues but also economic social and agricultural concerns. The authors propose a framework for harnessing expertise in the service of worldwide tobacco control.
To identify factors which limit the ability of local governments to make appropriate investments in the built environment to promote youth health and reduce obesity outcomes in Atlantic Canada.
Policy-makers and professionals participated in focus groups to discuss the receptiveness of local governments to introducing health considerations into decision-making. Seven facilitated focus groups involved 44 participants from Atlantic Canada. Thematic discourse analysis of the meeting transcripts identified systemic barriers to creating a built environment that fosters health for youth aged 12-15 years.
Participants consistently identified four categories of barriers. Financial barriers limit the capacities of local government to build, maintain and operate appropriate facilities. Legacy issues mean that communities inherit a built environment designed to facilitate car use, with inadequate zoning authority to control fast food outlets, and without the means to determine where schools are built or how they are used. Governance barriers derive from government departments with distinct and competing mandates, with a professional structure that privileges engineering, and with funding programs that encourage competition between municipalities. Cultural factors and values affect outcomes: people have adapted to car-oriented living; poverty reduces options for many families; parental fears limit children's mobility; youth receive limited priority in built environment investments.
Participants indicated that health issues have increasing profile within local government, making this an opportune time to discuss strategies for optimizing investments in the built environment. The focus group method can foster mutual learning among professionals within government in ways that could advance health promotion.
Lomas (1988) and Sabatier (1987) have suggested models by which to examine the roles that values, scientific knowledge, institutions, and the learning process play in the formulation of both national and clinical health-care policies. Utilizing their frameworks, this article offers an explanation for the development of high-volume screening mammography policies in Canada, despite the suggested inefficacy of screening technologies for 'unavoidable' illnesses such as carcinoma in the breast. The preliminary results of Canada's National Breast Screening Study further complicate this tissue. Inappropriate framing of the 'problem' in the policy-making process, by actors highly influenced by societal values and scientific evidence, is identified as the reason for present and planned policies and practices contradicting the first principles of health-policy analysis.