Category Archives: Blog (EN)

Addressing the Social Determinants of Health: Actions from the City

Social determinants of health are the social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health and well-being. Social determinants influence health as they define the extent of resources and opportunities that can be made available to individuals, given their social location (Marmot & Wilkinson, 2005; Raphael, 2009). They explain the health disparities observed among individuals and represent an important and continuing public health concern within the health promotion and health services spheres of research.

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Healthcare in Cuba: Defining Features and Future Trends

In 2016, Cuba made headlines for the status of its economic embargo with the US, its increasing foreign investments through tourism, and the death of Fidel Castro. Besides these recent events, in a sense foreshadowing Cuba’s future political and economic paths, throughout the 20th century, Cuba’s healthcare system has been acclaimed as one of the best healthcare systems in the world with very good health outcomes for the Cuban people. For example, infant mortality is lower than in the US and the life expectancy is 77.5 years of age (WHO, 2016). What are the Cuban healthcare system’s defining features? Will recent events alter some of its key aspects?

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Finding Potential in Another Mother’s Breastmilk

In Canada, the primary cause of mortality in infancy and long-term disability in children is being born at very low birth weight (<1500g or <3.3lbs; Saigal & Doyle, 2008). If these infants are fed their mother’s milk in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) they experience fewer severe infections (Hylander, Strobino, & Dhanireddy, 1998; Patel et al., 2013), improved feeding tolerance (Schanler, Shulman, & Lau, 1999; Sisk, Lovelady, Gruber, Dillard, & O’Shea, 2008), lower colonization of pathogenic bacteria (Yoshioka, Iseki, & Fujita, 1983), and increased neurocognitive development (Anderson, Johnstone, & Remley, 1999). However, due to many reasons related to preterm birth, as many as 70% of mothers cannot provide a sufficient amount of breastmilk to meet the demands of these infants, therefore, a supplement is necessary (Callen & Pinelli, 2005). Currently in Canada, either pasteurized donor breastmilk (donor milk) or preterm formula is used as a supplement to mother’s milk.

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A Healthcare Lesson: Comparing Chaoulli v. Quebec (2005) and Cambie Surgery Centre v. British Columbia (2016)

Publicly insured healthcare in Canada, also known as Medicare, is currently being reviewed in a judicial case in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The lawsuit filed by Cambie Surgery Centre is calling for allowing “medically necessary services” – those covered by public insurance – to be privately insured in order to improve access to care. Health services researchers, policy makers and citizens alike, are worried of the outcome of this 8-month provincial trial, as it is suggested that an outcome in favour of Cambie’s position would lead to a complete overhaul of Canada’s public healthcare system. In the midst of heated debates, we tend to forget that just over a decade ago, a similar legal battle challenging the extent of public insurance in Canada occurred in the province of Quebec. How are these two cases similar or different? What are the implications of each? What are lessons that can be learnt?

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Call for Bloggers

The RISS-IJHS is currently looking for students and researchers interested in contributing original content to the IJHS Blog. The ideal candidate should be able to produce monthly articles that are equally informative and stimulating, and will generate conversation among the health science community.

Blog posts must be:

  • Written in either French or English;
  • Between 300-800 words (although word count is flexible depending on the subject matter);
  • Written in accessible language to reach a wider audience.

Topics/ideas include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing and creating article series (e.g. healthcare financing in Canada – a retrospective, etc.);
  • Commenting on recent study releases, other academic journals and blogs (e.g. OECD, WHO, UNICEF and MSF);
  • Commenting on current news and events;
  • Interacting with readers by launching poll surveys, asking questions about issues, collecting opinion pieces, etc.

How to apply:

If this interests you, please send a brief summary of who you are (your motivation for doing this, writing/blogging /website experience, links to any current blogs you may have) along with a sample blog post to editor@riss-ijhs.ca.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Choice in childbirth: VBAC

Childbirth is a ubiquitous experience among mothers. Birth can occur in many ways, from medication-free natural labour, to cesarean section. Mothers in Canada can, for the most part, choose how they want to deliver. However, women with a prior cesarean section have a more difficult choice to make. They can choose to have a repeat cesarean section, or to attempt a vaginal birth after cesarean – a VBAC. How do women make this decision, and how can healthcare providers support them?

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Coffee Does Not Cause Cancer, but Hot Drinks Might

Coffee drinkers can sip a little easier now that the World Health Organization has downgraded coffee’s cancer risk. Due to inadequate evidence and inconsistent findings, consumers no longer need to worry about their morning cup of Joe. In fact, drinking coffee may actually protect consumers from several chronic diseases.

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Obesity Begins in the Womb

If you were asked “how much weight should a woman gain during pregnancy?” you might posit a guess around 15 or 20 pounds. In reality, it’s not that simple. The amount depends on her pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI). As such, in 2009, The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released gestational weight gain recommendations for each BMI category (Table 1). These recommendations were published to promote adequate foetal growth and reduce the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes (Rasmussen & Yaktine, 2013). Total recommended weight gain during pregnancy ranges from 28-40 pounds for underweight women and 11-20 pounds for obese women (Rasmussen & Yaktine, 2013). However, many women are not meeting these guidelines and 58% of Canadian women are surpassing them (Ferraro et al., 2012). Currently, obesity is recognized as a global public health concern with no signs of slowing down (NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, 2016). Is gestational weight gain a contributing factor?

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Ins and outs of cancer screening

 

It’s estimated that approximately 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer during their lifetime, and that 1 in 4 will die from the disease1. Cancer affects or touches almost everyone in this country in some way, and a lot of research has gone into preventing and treating the disease. The overall 5-year survival rate for all cancers in Canada was 63% for 2006-20081. It’s well known that cancers that are caught early have a higher chance of successful treatment and survival. One of the ways that we can diagnose these early-stage cancers is through screening.

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