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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sandor Demeter

Outsource Contact Tracing?????

Source: Adelaide circa 2019

After working as a public health officer for over a decade I can attest to the fact that Public Health has always been underfunded.

When public health does its job they prevent illnesses such as vaccine preventable diseases. That is, when public health does their job we experience the “absence” of disease, people are healthier, and they have a better quality of life. Politically, it is harder to “cut ribbons” when we prevent events versus the acute care sector which has sexy machines that go “Bing” to help fix people who are broken (Monty Python's "The machine that goes Bing" is a classic).

Public health accounted for just 7% of total health care spending in MB in 2019. This is illustrated below with Manitoba falling in the middle of the pack with Ontario at just over 8% and Nova Scotia at ~ 2% (CIHI 2019)

Overall hospitals, drugs and physician fees accounting for the majority of health care expenditures as illustrated below.

We should have learnt our lesson from SARS that you need a robust well funded public health system working in the background to monitor disease trends and manage outbreaks.

It is concerning that we are over 6 months into this pandemic, and we are now talking about “outsourcing” COVID-19 contact tracing?

It is time to “pony up” and adequately fund public health and stop kicking such needed public service investments down the road.

The federal government had put out a call months ago for volunteers to assist public health during the pandemic. As another option the MB government could request a list of Manitobans who volunteered and take them up on their offers in accordance with their experience and skill sets.

Manitobans have witnessed a progressive erosion of health care funding and services since 2016. Now is not the time to look for “quick fixes” which won’t build any capacity for the future.

In public health we work upstream to help prevent people from needing acute care services downstream. In the long run it is more effective to fund "upstream" solutions versus waiting for drowning victims to show up "downstream".

Source: Public Health Sudbury & Districts

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