During World Immunization Week, 24-30 April, 2016, WHO highlights recent gains in immunization coverage, and outlines further steps countries can take to meet global vaccination targets, outlined in the Global Vaccine Action Plan, by 2020. This year's theme will focus on "Closing the Immunization Gap - Immunization for all throughout life".
Through immunization, between 2 to 3 million deaths are adverted each year; however, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage improves. Today, an estimated 1 in 5 children worldwide are still missing routine immunizations for preventable diseases.
Unfortunately, Canada does not have a national vaccination strategy and as such, our programs vary by region and vaccination uptake is far from equitable nor coverage complete. As well, not all Canadians are committed to getting vaccinated. This is particularly true for child vaccines, as many parents are hesitant to vaccinate for fear of serious side effects. The Canadian Pediatric Society has some great resources for us. Click here for more details. For adults, visit Immunize Canada for excellent practical resources.
However, there has been some positive progress to report. The Ontario Ministry of Health announced on April 21, 2016 that it is expanding its publicly-funded HPV vaccination program to boys starting September 2016. The FMWC has always supported the value in vaccinating males and females as an equitable public-health policy, which recognizes that both genders contribute to the transmission of HPV and can develop HPV-related diseases. Ontario joins four other provinces who provide HPV vaccines to both genders.
Are we doing enough? What else could/should we be doing? Although we have seen progress, we must keep up the discussions for a national strategy to vaccinate all Canadians equitably. Use your voice. Strengthen FMWC's voice. Plan to join FMWC's cervical cancer Prevention and Advocacy Program (PAP campaign) of October 17-21, 2016 and use the week to vaccinate your eligible patients against HPV in addition to screening.
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The World Immunization Week, which will be held from 24-30 April 2015, will signal a renewed global, regional, and national effort to accelerate action to increase awareness and demand for immunization by communities, and improve vaccination delivery services. This year's campaign focuses on closing the immunization gap and reaching equity in immunization levels as outlined in the Global Vaccine Action Plan, which is a framework to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through universal access to vaccines for people in all communities. Click here for more details.
In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Imunization (NACI) makes recommendations for vaccination which are carried out by provincial programs across the country. Without a national strategy, our programs look different by regions and our vaccine uptake is far from equitable nor is coverage complete. This is what has allowed such things as a recent measles outbreak.
However, the issues are the same across the country when it comes to getting Canadians on board to get vaccinated. For kids vaccines, we all face the same vaccine hesitant parents. The Canadian Pediatric Society has some great resources for us. Click here for more details. For adults, visit Immunize Canada for excellent practical resources. Download their app for quick reference as a clinical tool.
Kudos to Dr. Vivien Brown, FMWC President elect, for contributing her voice on Queens Park on April 27th, when she addresses Health Minister Hoskins and MPPs regarding the importance of immunization.
The FMWC has a track record of advocacy in cervical cancer prevention and supported the vaccination program developments from the start about 10 years ago. Provincial HPV vaccination programs just having been birthed, MacLean's wrote about our girls as guinea pigs in 2007 and the media madness continues in 2015. The media has not always been kind nor accurate on this subject. This article from Vox gives a good description of how it still happens.
Keep up the discussions for a national strategy to vaccinate all Canadians equitably. Make sure the boys in your practice get HPV vaccine. Use your voice. Strengthen FMWC's voice. Plan ahead now to join FMWC's cervical cancer Prevention and Advocacy Program (PAP campaign) of October 19-23, 2015 and use the week to vaccinate your eligible patients against HPV in addition to screening.
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The FMWC has always stood for advocacy to prevent violence against women and girls. Members of FMWC also have an international voice as they are also automatically a member of the Medical Women's International Association (MWIA). FMWC is a participant in the MWIA project to develop a manual for health care providers. We would like to share some work in progress and useful links with you:
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women is a social mobilization platform aimed to end violence against women and girls. In Canada, UNiTE is commemorated by a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women each December 6. Canadian flags on all federal buildings, including the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, are flown at half-mast while Canadians are encouraged to observe a minute of silence and wear a white or purple ribbon as a commitment to end violence against women.
The date is significant as it is the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre where fourteen women were singled out for their gender and murdered. It is often marked by vigils, discussions and other reflections on violence against women.
FMWC members can start or join an action to educate through UNiTE by visiting their website: www.saynotoviolence.org
Pill Talk with your Doc is a webcast on the risks and benefits of the OCP created for FMWC by Dr. Vivien Brown, Christina Martorelli & Elizabeth Chertkow. Share it with your patients by sending them to www.pilltalkwithyourdoc.com.
Social justice is a matter of life and death. It affects the way people live, their consequent chance of illness, and their risk of premature death. We watch in wonder as life expectancy and good health continue to increase in parts of the world and in alarm as they fail to improve in others. Click here for WHO report on closing the gap in health equity.
This manual on how to integrate gender into medical education programs is part of the Gender and Curriculum Project in Ontario, Canada. Please feel free to view and share by clicking here.
A Training Manual for Gender Mainstreaming in Health was developed by the MWIA and which Dr. May Cohen (FMWC member) was instrumental in having produced. Click here to read more.
The training manual for Adolescent Sexuality written by Dr. May Cohen and compiled by Dr. Shelley Ross for the Medical Women's International Association is available. Click here to read more.
POWER is a multi-year project funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care analyzing the latest information on women’s health and health care in Ontario. The women’s health report card serves as an evidence-based tool for policy makers, providers, and consumers in their efforts to improve health and reduce inequities among Ontario women. It focuses on the leading causes of illness and death among women, including cancer, heart disease, depression, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, and reproductive health. In addition, it reports on the overall health of Ontario women, women’s access to health care services, and the social determinants of women’s health. To learn more, visit www.powerstudy.ca.
On April 19 2010, FMWC was invited to present to this committee on Women in Nontraditional Workplaces. We told the committee that the role of FMWC is to shine a light on the issues that remain as barriers to the full participation and equitable distribution of women in the physician workforce. In particular we spoke about the need for wider distribution into all specialties, the importance of workplace balance, flexible workplaces, less than full time work opportunities and advancement equity. We addressed the importance of attitude and workplace climate, and referred the committee to attend our webinar on how these climate changes might be approached. To read the paper we presented, click here.