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Chief Medical Officer calls for a change to how healthcare is funded in a new report

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

NORTH DURHAM/KAWARTHA: Ontario's top doctor is stressing the need for the province to learn lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic in a recently released report.

On Tuesday, March 7th, Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, released the 2022 annual report titled 'Being Ready: Ensuring Public Health Preparedness for Infectious Outbreaks and Pandemics.'

"Three years of COVID-19 have reinforced the devastating impact of pandemics on individuals, communities, and societies. We have lost too many loved ones. Ontarians are still experiencing the acute and ongoing, long-term effects of the virus itself, as well as the unintended consequences of some measures used to control the virus. The province also faces new infectious disease risks such as MPOX (formerly known as Monkey Pox), re-emerging pathogens like poliomyelitis and tuberculosis, and the return of annual seasonal epidemics such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Now, more than ever, we must be able to rapidly identify and respond to infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics so we can limit their impact, save lives, and safeguard Ontarians' health and well-being," the opening page of the report reads.

The report stresses the need for ongoing provincial investments in the healthcare system, not just during [an] outbreak and pandemic situations.

"To get better at detecting and responding to emerging diseases, to reduce the impact of disease outbreaks, including illness, deaths, and social disruption, Ontario must sustain its investment in public health preparedness over time. It is time to break the 'boom and bust' funding cycles [which] characterized past outbreaks."

It also recommends regular monitoring of the health sector.

"The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health will adapt and use pandemic preparedness indicators to regularly assess and report on the public health sector's progress in [an] outbreak and pandemic preparedness.”

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