Canadian public health leaders navigate volatile waters as the pandemic continues

Sidhartha Banerjee, Canadian Press

Published on Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 8:11 AMEST

Montreal-The sudden resignation of Quebec’s director of public health last week has led Quebec’s chief health officer on a rocky road as the waves of Omicron push the pandemic battle into its third year. It was further evidence of being there.

Dr. Horacio Arruda of Quebec, who has been the director of public health since 2012, quoted criticisms of the government’s latest wave handling as he suddenly resigned on Monday 22 months after overseeing the state’s pandemic response. ..

“Recent comments on the credibility and scientific rigor of our views are undoubtedly a cause of some loss of public support,” Aruda wrote in a letter offering to resign.

It was far from March 2020, when Aruda was among the best state health officers at work when the pandemic broke out. Aruda and others, including Dr. Bonnie Henry of British Columbia, Dr. Dina Hinsho of Alberta, and Dr. Robert Strang of Nova Scotia, became prominent almost overnight and made encouraging voices during times of crisis. ..

“Initially, when we didn’t know what we didn’t know and there was a lot of uncertainty, the chief medical officers played an incredibly useful role, as they intended. Patrick Fafferd, a professor of public affairs and international affairs at the University of Ottawa and studying the role of national medical officers, said:

“Their position in media terminology and public opinion has declined-some of them are unavoidable, but also because of tensions and contradictions in their roles.”

Fafhrd said medical officers play an advisory role, while states see that role differently. In an expanded pandemic, when scientific evidence was evolving rapidly, they had to harmonize governments with different views that did not make decisions based solely on science. The decisions ultimately lie with politicians, but they are often left to explain policy.

Most of the people who got a job in 2020 remain the same, with the exception of Aruda and Dr. David Williams of Ontario, who were criticized before retiring last year.

In British Columbia, Henry became known for his “kind, calm, and safe” signature. The signature is a poster, a T-shirt, a mask, and even “Dr.” Henry Shoes “designed in honor of her. Acclaimed as an effective communicator with her encouraging tone during the briefing, Henry also faces criticism for steadily defending her stance against the widespread use of rapid testing.

In Alberta, Hinsho has been severely criticized for lionization. At the beginning of 2020, when she became the face of a cautious state government implementing health regulations to protect Albertin and its health system, her face was engraved on clothing and designer prints.

But in the wave that followed, Hinsho wanted more regulation and less regulation, as Prime Minister Jason Kenny’s government postponed the implementation of new regulations and threatened to disrupt the healthcare system. I was caught up in the whipping between the Albertans. The lowest point was the fourth wave last summer, when thousands of surgeries were canceled and the troops were asked for help.

Kenny and Hinsho admitted that despite the rise of the Delta variant, they helped set the stage by immediately ending health restrictions in June. Kenny was responsible for the mistake, but also said he would have taken action if Hinsho had recommended it.

Daniel BĂ©land, a professor of political science at McGill University, said: “In the end, it’s important to understand that the responsibility for these decisions lies with the elected officials, not the civil servants.”

This distinction is not always understood by the general public, and medical personnel there see protests in front of their homes in stricter measures in Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. Did. Some have even faced death threats.

“They are scientists, civil servants, experts, but surrounded by politics,” said Beland, director of the Magill Institute in Canada. “When you’re really under pressure, it’s a very, very tough situation. You’re threatened with murder, and you’re regularly insulted. It’s hard.”

In Quebec, some commentators felt that Aruda, who maintained his role as Assistant Minister, was working too closely with Prime Minister Francois Lego’s government. Opposition and Quebec Medical College are calling for greater independence for the next board member.

After the pandemic, Fafhrd said it would be wise to revisit its role across the jurisdiction as part of a larger post-mortem analysis. But it’s important not to lose track of who will ultimately make the decision.

“The bottom line is that we need to hold the government accountable, not these people,” Fafhrd said. “Keep focusing on the politicians we choose, not the unelected civil servants.”

Mr Strang said he had heard criticism from some and was grateful to others.

“I don’t know if the general public is tired of contacting me,” Strang said in a briefing last week. “My commitment is to stay here and help Nova Scotia get through this pandemic as safely as possible.”

This report by Canadian Press was first published on January 15, 2022.

-Use files from Keith Doucette in Halifax, Dean Bennett in Edmonton, and Camille Bains in Vancouver.

Canadian public health leaders navigate volatile waters as the pandemic continues

Source link Canadian public health leaders navigate volatile waters as the pandemic continues

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