The way we die needs a fundamental rethink, according to a group of international experts, who say COVID-19 has shed a harsh spotlight on care for the dying. Death has been “overmedicalized” and millions around the globe are suffering unnecessarily at the end of their lives as a result, with healthcare workers in wealthy nations seeking to prolong life rather than support death, according to an expert panel convened by the Lancet medical journal.
At the same time, around half of people globally die without any palliative care or pain relief, particularly in lower-income countries. The Lancet Commission – involving patients, community experts, philosophers and theologians as well as experts in health and social care – are calling for change.
“How do we create a balanced way to support people as they are dying?” Commission co-chair Dr Libby Sallnow, a palliative medicine consultant and honorary senior clinical lecturer at University College London, said in an interview. “At the moment we are not managing it as we could be.” Although the Lancet Commission’s work began in 2018, Dr Sallnow said the extremes seen during the pandemic had given it a new focus. She recalled treating COVID patients at home and in hospital during the pandemic, with those in hospital able to access therapeutics and pain relief, but only able to speak to their loved ones via an iPad held aloft by medical staff. Conversely, patients at home had their loved ones with them, but often struggled for medicines to ease their suffering. Sallnow acknowledged that infection control measures early on in the pandemic had made it difficult to deliver care in a “balanced” way. “In the first wave of COVID, people were trying to respond to something entirely unknown. But quickly the world realized that it is not okay not to have people you love with you when you are dying,” she said.The commission had five recommendations for what they called a “new vision of death.” First, tackling the social determinants of death, dying and grieving, to allow for healthier lives and more equitable deaths.
They also recommend that dying should be seen as more than just a physiological event, and as such, networks of care must include families and communities as well as professionals. Conversations about death must also be encouraged, and death itself recognized as having value, they concluded. The commission’s work focuses on life-limiting illness or injury, rather than sudden or violent deaths, deaths of children, or deaths due to injustice.
(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby in London; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Chizu Nomiyama)
DeMille Anticipates Broader Rollout Of 4th Dose Vaccination – Country 105
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) is getting ready for the annual flu shot campaign, as well as a broader ask for arms to get the fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The province expanded the second booster dose eligibility on April 7th to those who are 60 and over as well as First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over.
“At this time, I’m not hearing any indication of the province opening up (eligibility) to the broader population, and I’m not sure really we would have evidence that would be needed at this time,” DeMille told Acadia News Monday. “We are much lower in terms of the amount of COVID-19 (cases) in the province of Ontario. With the summertime, we see overall less spread (of the virus).”
DeMille did mention that the District anticipates the call will get broader in the fall.
As of June 21st, 133,334 people within the TBDHU have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 80,719 have received three doses.
Officials have given fourth doses to 18,687 individuals as of the last update.
DeMille was also asked about a return to school in September, and what that might look like after Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told Federal MPs on June 8th that there is a real threat of the seventh wave of COVID-19.
The Medical Officer says it’s hard to look into the crystal ball and pinpoint what will happen based on the fact that right now a majority of the new infections are the Omicron variant.
“The schools overall did fairly well,” DeMille stated. “We know that a lot of people did get infected, which can cause a lot of disruption because people still need to isolate so that they are not spreading (the virus) to others. Likely a lot of spread happened in the schools when we re-opened in January and through the last few waves.”
DeMille noted that the schools took a lot of measures that helped in previous waves, including improving ventilation.
“I anticipate that (masking) will always be optional, but when the Omicron variant is spreading, it’s always helpful when people are masking in indoor spaces when they are interacting with others,” said DeMille. “(Down the road) we might recommend that people wear masks in schools, but that advice will really depend on what we see circulating, how much it is circulating and what the impact is on schools.”
DeMille mentioned whether it is the school, the workplace, or any other indoor space, the goal is to return to as normal as possible in an eventual post-pandemic world.
Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, says WHO – Global News
Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) ruled on Saturday, although WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.
“I am deeply concerned about the monkeypox outbreak, this is clearly an evolving health threat that my colleagues and I in the WHO Secretariat are following extremely closely,” Tedros said.
The “global emergency” label currently only applies to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, and the U.N. agency has stepped back from applying it to the monkeypox outbreak after advice from a meeting of international experts.
There have been more than 3,200 confirmed cases of monkeypox and one death reported in the last six weeks from 48 countries where it does not usually spread, according to WHO.
So far this year almost 1,500 cases and 70 deaths in central Africa, where the disease is more common, have also been reported, chiefly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Monkeypox, a viral illness causing flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, has been spreading largely in men who have sex with men outside the countries where it is endemic.
It has two clades – the West African strain, which is believed to have a fatality rate of around 1% and which is the strain spreading in Europe and elsewhere, and the Congo Basin strain, which has a fatality rate closer to 10%, according to WHO.
More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll
There are vaccines and treatments available for monkeypox, although they are in limited supply.
The WHO decision is likely to be met with some criticism from global health experts, who said ahead of the meeting that the outbreak met the criteria to be called an emergency.
However, others pointed out that the WHO is in a difficult position after COVID-19. Its January 2020 declaration that the new coronavirus represented a public health emergency was largely ignored by many governments until around six weeks later, when the agency used the word “pandemic” and countries took action.
(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby; additional reporting by Mrinmay Dey; Editing by Sandra Maler)
© 2022 Reuters
Kingston, Ont., area health officials examining future of local vaccination efforts – Global News
More than 455,000 people in the Kingston region have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Now health officials say they’re using the summer months, with low infection rates, to look ahead to what fall might bring, urging those who are still eligible to get vaccinated do so.
“Large, mass immunization clinics, mobile clinics, drive-thru clinics and small primary care clinics doing their own vaccine,” said Brian Larkin with KFL&A Public Health.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Gerald Evans says those who are still eligible for a third and fourth dose should take advantage and roll up their sleeves during the low-infection summer months.
“Now in 2022, although you still might get COVID, you’re probably not going to be very sick. You are less likely to transmit and ultimately that’s one of the ways we’re going to control the pandemic,” added Evans.
He expects another wave of COVID-19 to hit in late October to early November and that a booster may be made available for those younger than 60 who still aren’t eligible for a fourth dose.
“The best case scenario is a few more years of watching rises in cases, getting boosters to control things and ultimately getting out of it with this being just another coronavirus that just tends to cause a respiratory infection and worst-case scenario is a new variant where all the potential possibilities exist to have a big surge in cases and hopefully not a lot more serious illness,” said Evans.
Public Health says they’re still waiting for direction from the province on what’s to come this fall.
“We’re expecting that we would see more age groups and younger age groups be eligible for more doses or boosters but about when those ages start, we have yet to have that confirmed,” said Larkin.
The last 18 months of vaccines paving the way for the new normal could mean a yearly COVID booster alongside the annual flu shot.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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