Our society has not seen the global crisis in public health disease we are facing today since the silent scourge of smallpox which sickened approximately half of all the world’s population. A mere 400,000 cases remained in the entire world 30 years ago. Today, there are more than two million cases of diseases like Ebola and Meningitis which now account for 1 million deaths a year.
Through no fault of our own, North America has developed a health care system that is unable to support and empower front line health workers to provide efficient and effective health care to our citizens.
Health care workers remain one of the most impoverished segments of our society. This is evidenced by recent media reports of a nurse that self-surrendered and was later found dead, a loss of federal funding for nurse residency programs and a reported shortage of Canadian government advisors to support front line health care workers.
Douglas Vaughan: The “human toll” of issues that affect health care workers is often overlooked
While Health Minister Greg Fergus and Premier Doug Ford’s negative rhetoric has mired the health care profession and contributed to negative public perception of the system, they have also failed to acknowledge the significant contributions Canadian health care workers make to their communities. Recently, the Honourable Minister Fergus announced that the province will be recognizing 43 nurses and other health workers as Canada’s Most Outstanding Public Health Program for 2019. Yet, rather than honor their contributions, he has cast blame at frontline health care workers who need government support to fulfill their mission.
The problem of front line health care workers’ lack of support is a global one. In Canada, we have had to deal with the challenges of a population aging with a number of chronic diseases, the world’s highest rate of obesity and our citizens being exposed to various drug and food contaminants. It is time for our leadership to recognize the importance of the health care professionals who serve their communities and pledge to protect their work, their families and themselves from needless anxiety and stress caused by harmful misinformation and excessive rhetoric.
We need to take a collective stand together. It is time to support frontline health care workers in getting the comprehensive and high quality health care they are entitled to. However, when taken too far, politicians, media and advocates for taxpayers are fueling a hysteria which plays to the worst in people. This misunderstanding is a dangerous affront to a hard working and dedicated group of health care professionals who are truly deserving of our support.