NW Week

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief officer, thinks the public health system need update

Dr. Theresa Tam

Key Takeaways:

  • ‘We were unprepared to deal with a public health crisis of the magnitude of COVID-19.’
  • Canada’s chief public health officer has urged the federal government to make fundamental changes better to prepare the country for future and current health threats.

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a wake-up call to Canada’s need for “public health renewal,” according to Dr. Theresa Tam on Monday. “To put it simply, we were unprepared to deal with a public health emergency of the magnitude of COVID-19,” Tam said at a press conference.

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Tam acknowledged that the call isn’t new, noting that her predecessors have made similar requests since 2008. “The public health workforce is already stretched thin before the pandemic, and it may not have the capacity to counter the next emergency,” Tam wrote in her annual report, which was tabled Monday in the House of Commons.

Canada’s chief officer Dr. Theresa Tam; Image from Toronto Star

“Getting the necessary data to inform public health decision-making is still taking too long.” As a result, inequities exist across society, and fundamental social and economic measures implemented during COVID-19 may not be sustained. These flaws could erode Canada’s ability to withstand future health threats.”

Tam is concerned that the recovery from the epidemic will be entirely focused on the healthcare system’s demands, which will overshadow the need to improve public health. She said that enhancing public health implies boosting data gathering and surveillance in Canada.

According to Tam, Canada’s ability to collect data regarding the pandemic hampered the country’s response. Furthermore, Tam cautioned the government against reducing public health funding once the emergency had passed, as governments frequently do, which could put Canada at a disadvantage when the next crisis arose.

Tam says she wants a more explicit public health mandate so that everyone understands what providers are expected to deliver. She hopes this will help shape future discussions between provinces and territories about healthcare transfers and needed resources.

Source: Mapleridge News

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