Public Health Expert Panel Report

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In January of this year, the Provincial Ministry of Health partnered with public health units together to create an Expert Panel on public health which would generate a report to guide the future of public healthcare plans in Ontario.

 

This report makes recommendations on structural, organizational and governance changes for Ontario’s public health sector that, if implemented, would constitute a significant departure from status quo. As part of their recommendation, the Expert Panel was asked to consider:

  1. The optimal organizational structure for public health in Ontario to:
  • ensure accountability, transparency and quality of population and public health programs and services
  • improve capacity and equity in public health units across Ontario
  • support integration with the broader health system and the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) – the organizations responsible for planning health services
  • leverage public health’s expertise and leadership in population health-based planning, decision-making and resource allocation, as well as in addressing health equity and the social determinants of health.

 

  1. How best to govern and staff the optimal organizational structure.

 

Yesterday, the report was made available in full and is available by clicking here.

I believe this is a great stride forward toward a public health sector that operates consistently between municipality and province. Moreover, an integrated health system will make the programs offered by public health will be more visible in the public domain, thereby improving upon resources that are readily available.

I highly encourage all residents to review the report as there are quite a few perspectives explained in the way of optimizing public health for everyday life.

Tips for Hosting a Successful Summer BBQ from OPH

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Summer is now here and what better way is there to enjoy some fun in the sun than a summer barbecue (BBQ) with friends, colleagues and/or family? As with any type of cooking, it is important to follow safe food handling procedures to prevent harmful bacteria from ruining outdoor spreads. As residents continue to head outdoors to enjoy their summers, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and myself would like to provide a reminder to home-chefs of some of the food safety challenges that cooking on their grills may present.

 

Here are some important food safety tips to remember when BBQing:

 

Clean

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water for at least 15 seconds before preparing food and/or when changing tasks.
  • Clean and sanitize utensils, cooking equipment and work surfaces with hot water and soap. Always make sure to use separate utensils for raw and cooked products. So remember – when putting chicken on the grill; be sure to use a new, clean utensil to take it off!

 

Separate

  • Make sure to keep raw meat away from other foods, including garnish like lettuce and tomatoes. If heading over to a friend’s place for a BBQ, pack raw meats separately from other food items.
  • Use separate utensils (e.g. spatula, tongs) and cutting boards to prepare raw meats, cooked meats and fruits/ vegetables.
  • Always cover food items to protect from cross contamination by food, humans and/or insects. No extra protein needed!

 

Chill

  • Are the burgers frozen? Thaw foods in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or microwave (if the food item is placed immediately on the grill). Meat should be completely thawed before grilling so that it cooks more evenly.
  • Keep cold foods cold at 4°C/40°F or lower by placing the items in a cooler full of ice or on a platter that is full of ice.

 

Cook

  • Bacteria such as Coli and Salmonella are killed by heat. Raw meat must be cooked properly and to a safe internal temperature to avoid the risk of food borne illness.
  • Use a probe thermometer to ensure that food has reached the proper temperature before eating.
  • Place the probe thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. It is important not to rely on the colour of the food or juices as an indicator that meat is safe to eat.

 

For a full list of cooking temperatures, consult this handy chart.

 

Serving Food and Leftovers

  • Use a clean plate when taking food off the grill. Do not put cooked food on the same plate that held raw meat.
  • Cool food using shallow containers, or ice baths. Discard any food that is left out for more than 2 hours.

For more information about food safety, please visit http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/public-health/healthy-living/food-safety.

I hope that all residents have a safe and delicious summer!

Ticks and Lyme Disease

TheTickKey_Greenembedded-tick

I would like to take a moment to remind residents to be aware of ticks and to take harm-reducing measures to prevent the spread of Lyme Disease.

 

Lyme disease is an infection caused by a bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. In Ontario, Lyme disease is spread by the bite of a black-legged tick, commonly known as the deer tick. Most humans are infected through the bite of an immature tick called a nymph, which is very small and are most active in the spring. Adult ticks are larger and active during the late summer and fall.

 

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has been advising Ottawa physicians and the public since April of 2017 that all parts of Ottawa should be considered risk areas for Lyme disease. The prevalence of Lyme disease in blacklegged ticks will fluctuate in time and geographically throughout the Ottawa region; however, as mentioned, all of Ottawa is considered a risk area for Lyme disease.

I would also like to remind residents that OPH has put together Lyme disease “kits”, which are available for pickup free of charge at my ward office in the Goulbourn Recreation Complex (GRC) for your information, use and distribution. Each “kit” includes a Lyme disease factsheet, which offers details related to the symptoms of Lyme Disease, tick removal processes, testing protocols and ways to prevent tick bites. The kits also include a tick key, which is designed to help remove any tick that may have attached themselves to a person, a family member, friend or pet.

I encourage all residents to pick up a tick-kit and be prepared for what to do in case you find a tick attached to you or your pets.

For more information on how to protect yourself and your family, please visit www.ottawa.ca/lymedisease. Should you have any questions or require more information, please feel free to contact me at shad.qadri@ottawa.ca.

Prevent Overdoses at Summer Parties and Festivals

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oph

The Ottawa Overdose Prevention and Response Task Force is reminding residents to party safely while celebrating throughout the summer festival season. The Task Force advises that overdoses, whether from drugs, alcohol or a combination of both, are preventable. There is also an increased risk of alcohol and drug-facilitated sexual assaults at large events.

Ottawa sees over 30 drug overdose deaths every year, and the number of emergency department visits related to accidental drug overdoses nearly doubled from 2009 to 2015. In Ottawa in 2016, there was an average of 22 emergency department visits per week for life-threatening drug overdoses.

To lower the risk of overdose and sexual assault, the Task Force is working with festival organizers, security companies and first aid providers, as well as providing festival goers with safe partying tips.

  • Don’t mix drugs with other substances like alcohol. Using more than one drug at a time increases the risk of overdose.
  • Stay hydrated with water and take breaks from dancing to prevent dehydration and overheating.
  • Don’t accept drinks (even water) from people you don’t know –  there is increased risk of alcohol and drug-facilitated sexual assaults at large festivals.
  • Speak up!Don’t be afraid to say you feel unsafe or don’t feel well.  Seek help from your friends, first aid providers or festival support staff.
  • Plan a safe ride home before you go out – have a designated driver, plan your bus route or your cab ride before going out.

Festival goers who choose to use drugs should:

  • Never use without others present– stay with friends you trust and keep an eye on each other
  • Go slow if you are using a new substance;
  • Know the signs of an overdose and call 911 – an overdose is always a medical emergency;
  • Carry naloxone – it is a medication that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose;
  • If you witness an overdose, call 911 immediately. Administer first aid, give naloxone and if you are on festival grounds, send someone to get festival medical staff.

 

The Task Force also reminds festival goers that counterfeit pills in Ottawa have tested positive for fentanyl, which is an opioid that is approximately 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Getting “street drugs” from a non-medical source such as a friend, ordering online, or from a drug dealer is very risky and potentially life-threatening. There is no way to know what is actually in them or how toxic they may be. Partying at festivals doesn’t have to include drug use.

 

Festival goers should also be familiar with the signs of an opioid overdose, which include:

  • Breathing will be slow or absent
  • Lips and nails are blue
  • Person is not moving
  • Person may be choking
  • Person will make gurgling or snoring sounds
  • Person can’t be woken up
  • Skin feels cold and clammy
  • Pupils are tiny (also known as pinpoint)

The Task Force is working with festival organizers to reduce harms to festival goers, including facilitating training to first aid attendants and other first responders on overdose prevention, opioids and naloxone administration. You can get a take-home naloxone kit for free from pharmacies and other agencies in Ottawa. For more about overdoses and how to prevent them, visit StopOverdoseOttawa.ca

#HaveYourSay: Marketing of unhealthy foods to children and youth

ophAddictive-foods

In my role as Chair of Ottawa Public Health (OPH), I am happy to share that OPH has launched a public consultation asking residents, businesses and sports groups to ‘have their say’ on marketing of unhealthy food and beverage to children and youth in our communities.

 

The results of the consultation will help OPH better understand what Ottawa residents think about marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children and youth in Ottawa and will be used to guide future public health work in this area.

 

A bilingual survey is now available online until August 14, 2017. In addition to the survey, residents are invited to participate in a live Facebook chat on June 21, 2017. The live chat will run from 8:00am to 3:00pm with a special noon hour presentation with guest speaker Mr. Manuel Arango, Director of Health Policy at the Heart and Stroke Foundation to discuss their report “The kids are not alright: How the food and beverage industry is marketing our children and youth to death”.

 

OPH invites all Ottawa business and industry organizations, and sports and child-focused groups to contact OPH should they wish to participate in a focus group on marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children and youth. Interested parties can do so by emailing M2CY@ottawa.ca.

 

Other opportunities to provide feedback on this public consultation include calling the OPH Information Line at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656),written submission via email to M2CY@ottawa.ca, regular mail, and via social media networks on Facebook and Twitter.

 

I highly encourage all residents to take a moment to provide their feedback as this is an important issue regarding how unhealthy foods and drinks are promoted to our youth. By providing feedback, you are helping to shape the healthy eating habits for children not only today but in the future of Ottawa.

 

I would like to thank OPH for pursuing this excellent initiative and also thank all residents for contributing your time to complete the survey. Thank you.

 

For additional information, please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca.

#HaveYourSay: Marketing of unhealthy foods to children and youth

ophAddictive-foods

In my role as Chair of Ottawa Public Health (OPH), I am happy to share that OPH has launched a public consultation asking residents, businesses and sports groups to ‘have their say’ on marketing of unhealthy food and beverage to children and youth in our communities.

 

The results of the consultation will help OPH better understand what Ottawa residents think about marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children and youth in Ottawa and will be used to guide future public health work in this area.

 

A bilingual survey is now available online until August 14, 2017. In addition to the survey, residents are invited to participate in a live Facebook chat on June 21, 2017. The live chat will run from 8:00am to 3:00pm with a special noon hour presentation with guest speaker Mr. Manuel Arango, Director of Health Policy at the Heart and Stroke Foundation to discuss their report “The kids are not alright: How the food and beverage industry is marketing our children and youth to death”.

 

OPH invites all Ottawa business and industry organizations, and sports and child-focused groups to contact OPH should they wish to participate in a focus group on marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children and youth. Interested parties can do so by emailing M2CY@ottawa.ca.

 

Other opportunities to provide feedback on this public consultation include calling the OPH Information Line at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656),written submission via email to M2CY@ottawa.ca, regular mail, and via social media networks on Facebook and Twitter.

 

I highly encourage all residents to take a moment to provide their feedback as this is an important issue regarding how unhealthy foods and drinks are promoted to our youth. By providing feedback, you are helping to shape the healthy eating habits for children not only today but in the future of Ottawa.

 

I would like to thank OPH for pursuing this excellent initiative and also thank all residents for contributing your time to complete the survey. Thank you.

 

For additional information, please visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca.

OPH Overdose Data

Earlier this week, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) released new data regarding emergency department visits for drug overdoses in Ottawa, available by clicking here.

 

These statistics build upon the data previously released earlier this month which you can find on my website at https://shadqadri.com/2017/05/05/oph-data-report-on-overdoses/

 

This week, Public Health Ontario also released a new data tool that shows the overdose rates across the province. This data is current up to 2016 and can be found at the following link:

http://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/dataandanalytics/pages/opioid.aspx

 

In releasing the above data, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, the Chief Medical Officer of Health and Provincial Overdose Coordinator, and the Chief Coroner for Ontario issued a joint statement, which can be found here.

 

For more information on illicit Fentanyl and how to respond to an overdose, I encourage all residents to visit www.stopoverdoseottawa.ca.

Secure your meds

prescription

This week, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) launched a “Secure Your Meds” campaign to raise awareness about prescription opioid misuse by people who use prescription drugs non-medically.

This campaign is a collaboration with the Ottawa Overdose Prevention and Response Task Force, the Health Products Stewardship Association and Drug Free Kids Canada.

As part of the launch, OPH has launched www.DrugDropOffOttawa.ca, a web tool useful for providing information for all parents to reduce the risk of kids taking and using their prescription drugs.

13% of Ottawa high school students used prescription drugs non-medically and two-thirds of students got the drug from a parent, sibling or someone else they live with.

Prescription opioids are misused more than most illegal drugs in Ottawa, and were involved in about 45% of drug overdose deaths between 2009 and 2011. Fentanyl, for the first time in 2014, was the leading cause of death due to unintentional opioid overdose death in Ottawa.

If you need to have prescription drugs at home, lock them up and check regularly for missing medication. Watch for missing medication and return unused medications to your pharmacy or at a pharmacy participating in the Ontario Medication Return Program.

 

For more information including a searchable map of where to drop off unused or expired medications, please visit www.DrugDropOffOttawa.ca.

OPH “Secure Your Meds” Campaign

prescription

This week, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) launched a “Secure Your Meds” campaign to raise awareness about prescription opioid misuse by people who use prescription drugs non-medically.

 

This campaign is a collaboration with the Ottawa Overdose Prevention and Response Task Force, the Health Products Stewardship Association and Drug Free Kids Canada.

 

As part of the launch, OPH has launched www.DrugDropOffOttawa.ca, a web tool useful for providing information for all parents to reduce the risk of kids taking and using their prescription drugs.

Didyouknow

13% of Ottawa high school students used prescription drugs non-medically and two-thirds of students got the drug from a parent, sibling or someone else they live with.

 

Prescription opioids are misused more than most illegal drugs in Ottawa, and were involved in about 45% of drug overdose deaths between 2009 and 2011. Fentanyl, for the first time in 2014, was the leading cause of death due to unintentional opioid overdose death in Ottawa.

 

If you need to have prescription drugs at home, lock them up and check regularly for missing medication.

 

For more information including a searchable map of where to drop off unused or expired medications, please visit www.DrugDropOffOttawa.ca.

Opioid Overdose Update

naloxone

I would like to take a moment to share a public service announcement that was released today from Ottawa Public Health regarding the ongoing efforts to reduce illicit opioid overdoses in Ottawa:

 

 

The Ottawa Overdose Prevention and Response Task Force (OPRTF) is alerting the public about an increase in suspected drug overdose-related emergency department visits in Ottawa in the last 72 hours – with 15 life-threatening or potentially life-threatening suspected cases reported over that time period (April 18 to April 20).

The OPRTF monitors suspected drug overdose-related emergency department data daily to be able to appropriately respond should a sharp increase of overdose-related emergency department visits occur in the community.

An overdose is a medical emergency. Anyone who suspects or witnesses an overdose should immediately call 9-1-1, even if naloxone has been given.

 

In February 2017, Ottawa Public Health and Ottawa Police Service issued an Alert of Potential Risk of Overdose from Counterfeit Prescription Pills in Ottawa being involved with life-threatening overdoses and deaths.

 

Although the OPRTF cannot confirm that these overdoses are related to intentional or counterfeit opioid-use, when a sudden increase in the number and severity of suspect drug-related emergency department visits is observed during a short period of time, there is always a possibility of counterfeit drugs being cut with opioids.

 

Residents are reminded of the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose:

  • Breathing will be slow or gone
  • Lips and nails are blue
  • Person is not moving
  • Person may be choking
  • You can hear gurgling sounds or snoring
  • Person can’t be woken up
  • Skin feels cold and clammy
  • Pupils are tiny

 

Residents who use drugs, or their loved ones, are advised of the ways to reduce their risk of overdose:

  • Avoid using drugs alone
  • Avoid mixing drugs or combining with alcohol
  • Use a small amount first to test strength
  • Use less drug(s) when tolerance may be lower (change in health status or weight, recent release from prison, treatment program or hospital)

Getting drugs from a non-medical source such as a friend, ordering online, or a drug dealer is very risky and potentially life-threatening. There is no way to know what is actually in them or how toxic they may be. Drugs should only be purchased or obtained from a local pharmacy or a registered medical professional.

 

To help police find the sources of counterfeit pills, it is important to report this information to police. You can call Crime Stoppers and report anonymously. Submit an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), texting CRIMES (274637), keyword “tip252”. You can also download the Ottawa Police Service app for iOS or Android.

 

Naloxone can buy time while paramedics are en route. You can get a take-home naloxone kit for free from pharmacies and other agencies in Ottawa. To find a participating pharmacy near you check this list of pharmacies that have naloxone. For more about overdoses and how to prevent them, visit StopOverdoseOttawa.ca

Members of the Ottawa Overdose Prevention and Response Task Force, include Ottawa Public Health, Ottawa Paramedic Services, Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa Fire Services, OC Transpo, The Ottawa Hospital, The Royal Ottawa Hospital, Montfort Hospital, Queensway Carleton Hospital, The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario,  Rideauwood Addictions and Family Services, The Office of the Regional Coroner, Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres, Respect Pharmacy, Champlain Local Health Intergration Network, Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre, Ottawa Carleton Pharmacist Association, Direction de santé publique, Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais.