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Dr. Danielle Martin co-authors Lancet study on how Canada can achieve more of its potential in healthcare

By Jennifer Lee

 A new study published in The Lancet reveals Canada’s opportunity to improve on three key areas of health. Dr. Danielle Martin, along with her co-authors, published a paper on Canada’s universal health-care system: achieving its potential on February 23. The findings tell a story of issues that health systems have long faced across the country, from poor health outcomes in indigenous communities, to costly prescription drugs and long wait times for non-urgent procedures.

In Canada, healthcare spending is 10.4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A defining social program that has been deeply embedded in our national identify, Medicare is also now 52 years old and facing new challenges that some say could put it at risk.

While access to more urgent medical and surgical care can be timely, waits for elective medical procedures and treatments continue to be at issue. One in three Canadians currently need to wait over two months for specialist referrals – much longer than their peers in other OECD countries. An aging population, growing urbanizaton and geographical vastness also make delivery in rural and remote areas particularly complex.

As the lead author on one of a series of papers written to highlight Canada’s position on the global health stage, Dr. Danielle Martin, vice-president, medical affairs and health system solutions at Women’s College Hospital, is calling for an update to be made in order to continue the commitment to the original values and principles of Canada’s universal healthcare.

“Medicare is a source of national pride and a model for achieving universal health coverage,” says Martin.  “But without reform, the system risks becoming outdated. Rather than continue the Canadian tradition of slow, steady, and incremental change, Canada needs to step forward boldly to ensure a vital and sustainable health system for all Canadians.”

In order to get there, she says that, “provincial and territorial governments cannot succeed alone; the federal government now needs to renew its national vision for health care, recommitting to core Canadian values of equity and solidarity.” To watch the launch of the Lancet’s Series on Canada, click here.

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