Today, an unprecedented number of children and youth across Canada are gravely ill with influenza and other respiratory illnesses including RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and COVID-19. The resources required to provide quality care are stretched so thin that previously unthinkable measures have become a reality.
As health care workers battle the current onslaught of respiratory illnesses affecting children and youth, we must acknowledge that our health systems are not keeping pace with the needs of our population, young or aging. In earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed the devastation inflicted on older adults. Today, it is children who are suffering the most — children who already routinely wait longer than adults for things like surgery, diagnostic imaging and mental health services. It is a desperate situation for many, and we are deeply concerned for these children and their families. This is yet another example of why we need to urgently reform our health care system.
Until we begin to address our health human resources crisis and other systemic, nationwide challenges, access to care will continue to be compromised. Crises will continue to push our health system and the providers in it to the brink. Canadians, including children, will continue to suffer. We need innovation, collaboration and action. We need it now.
While calling for prompt action from governments, we also urge Canadians to do what they can to stop the spread of respiratory illness, including getting flu and COVID-19 vaccines, wearing a well-fitting mask in indoor public spaces and staying home when sick.
Dr. Alika Lafontaine
President, Canadian Medical Association
Dr. Katharine Smart
Past President, Canadian Medical Association
Dr. Kathleen Ross
President Elect, Canadian Medical Association