Advocating for strong and independent public health

The scientific community urges the government not to quickly turn the page on the lessons of the past two years and to continue listening to the science for the next waves and pandemics to come.

D. one of those lessons forR Alain Poirier, former national director of public health, makes a clear distinction between politics and public health. “Initially it was so big that it was controlled by the politicians, by the prime minister himself,” says the doctor.

“It is the whole question of how the health emergency should be managed. we saw that this time, it was very political and then people didn’t even disturb the works of theR Aruda, Health Minister and Prime Minister.”

Once this observation is established, it will also be necessary to quickly deal with the various structures of networks that have failed, believed scientists present Friday at a symposium on the management of COVID-19 at the ACFAS Congress. is.

“If we think about the future, we can’t do that without addressing the question of these major problems out there, because whatever we’re going to put on paper in a beautiful plan, we’re going to go up a wall. If we don’t ‘have the ability to keep them in place,’ insists DeeD Cécile Tremblay, microbiologist-infectiologist at the CHUM Research Center.

permanent monitoring

The latter proposes the creation of a permanent pandemic watch structure that would be independent of politics and protected from the reductions experienced by public health in recent years.

“We wrote plans for post-Ebola, post-H1N1, but it remains on a good tablet because it’s nobody’s responsibility to follow the recommendations,” the expert explains.

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For example, dD Judith Fafford of Quebec’s Public Health Laboratory recalled that the province had stockpiled reagents for tests after the last influenza pandemic, but these were not renewed “on budget cuts”.

“We have to avoid tightening too quickly and return to pre-pandemic conditions”, estimates DeeD Anne-Claude Labe from the University of Montreal. “You have to be flexible and don’t put aside expertise you may not need on a daily basis.”

local construction

The issue of local manufacturing of equipment is also recognized by scientists as one of the priorities for better response to future threats.

the dR Richard Maas, who was Horacio Aruda’s right-hand man in the first waves of the crisis, admits that this lack of capacity would have been “a significant nuisance”.

“There is no stockpile of equipment, no health reserve or reserve in laboratories”, confirms the doctor who indicates that the subject was put back on the agenda, but to be sure, we should no longer bother the government. Had to do What happened’.

“We have to acknowledge that in some vulnerable areas, we will pay more to respond to a pandemic,” says Cecil Tremblay, calling for the end of the “candle-saving end” in health.

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preparing for the next wave

And for the foreseeable future, knowing that a seventh wave is “almost certain” in the fall, the government will have to be on guard, even if the population is no longer in the mood for summer cheer.

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“The best indicators on the variant come from Europe, among others. These are indicators that cannot be ignored, ”said virologist Benoit Barbeau.

“We will not deal with a less transmissible virus. When it’s about to happen, it’s going to come straight out like an ommicron wave. It will take a screening and testing strategy that matches that,” said Cecil Tremblay, insisting the pandemic is not over.

“Still 30 people are dying in a day. We still have to give a name to each of these people because in the first wave, 30 died in a day and we were in turmoil, but not there at all.

Some keys to the fight against the next waves and pandemics

  • Clear freedom of public health versus politics
  • Establishment of Permanent Epidemic Surveillance Structure
  • Investing in local manufacturing of essential medical items
  • Make sure public health investments are maintained
  • computerized data analysis network development
  • Maintaining testing for at-risk populations

Source: Colloquial “Science, Screening and Epidemics: A Conflict of Ideas”, ACFAS

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