Today is a day of celebration for all Canadians! On July 1, 1867 Canada officially became a self-governing independent dominion, and now, 147 years later, we have more then Hockey, Tim Horton’s and The Tragically Hip to be proud of! Canada is a country where an average of 250,000 immigrants settle to call home each year. It’s a place with breath taking landscapes, socialized health care and passionate demonstrations for rights and equality (which was noted most recently at the exciting and powerful LGBTQ World Pride event this past week!)
Working in healthcare, I’ve noticed that many Canadians complain about the negative aspects of our health system. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how lucky we are to have the healthcare we do. Did you know the average lifespan of Canadians has increased more then 30 years since the early 1900’s? The 25 of these years are associated with the advances to public health, such as:
-Knowledge of safer and healthier food options
-Recognition of tabacco as a health hazard
-Vaccinations for infectious diseases
Canada has impacted advancements to healthcare globally as well. Here are some of the outstanding acomplishments we should be proud to call Canadian!
1922- Drs. Frederick Banting, Charles Best, John MacLeod, and J.B. Collipp unlocked the mystery of diabetes. Working at the University of Toronto laboratory, Banting and Best were able to make a pancreatic extract called insulin which had anti-diabetic characteristics. After learning how to purify the extract, patients were treated with spectacular success. Before this discovery, diabeties was a death sentence.
1945- Dr. Raymond Parker of the University of Toronto’s Connaught Laboratories discovers a chemical nutrient in which cells can grow and replicate, playing a role in the discovery of the polio vaccine.
1946- Dr. Charles Leblond develops autoradiography. This technique is later used to identify stem cells in adult organs and observe the creation of proteins in living cells. (I wonder if those organs used to experiment on where given willingly)
1951- Dr. John Alexander “Jack” Hopps develops the world’s first external ‘cardiac pacemaker’, which electrically stimulates heart muscles.
1951- Dr. C. M. Fisher discovers that strokes are often preceded by Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) – brief episodes of impaired consciousness caused by blood clots in the arteries of the brain.
1956- Dr. Vera Peters pioneers the use of radiation in the treatment of Hodgkin’s disease. Once thought to be incurable, Hodgkin’s now has a survival rate of more than 90%.
1959- Drs. Robert Noble and Charles Thomas Beer discover that the plant extract vinblastine provides an effective treatment for cancer. The chemical remains an important component of chemotherapies used to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lung, breast and testicular cancer.
1960- Dr. Robert Salter develops the “Salter Operation” for hip dislocation in children, a procedure still in use worldwide.
1961- Drs. James E. Till and Ernest A. McCulloch discover the hemopoietic stem cell, the basis for bone marrow transplantation.
1961- Dr. Harold Copp discovers calcitonin, a hormone that inhibits the release of calcium from the bones, used to treat osteoporosis, Paget’s disease of bone and rheumatoid arthritis.
1967- Many medicines have been created to cure the sick, however, they are extremely dangerous to children. The first childproof medication cap, was developed by Dr. Henri Breault, in Windsor, Ontario, reducing the incidence of childhood poisonings by 90%.
1968- Many mothers to this day can thank Dr. Bruce Chown who licensed Rh immunoglobulin, which virtually eliminated Rh disease. Prior too, it claimed the lives of many babies whose blood was incompatible with their mothers’ blood.
1977- Dr. Henry Friesen receives the Gairdner Foundation International Award for his discovery of a hormone called prolactin, which causes infertility in humans.
1980- Dr. Albert Aguayo does the seemingly impossible: he shows that damaged spinal cord nerves can regrow in animals if provided with the right environment. AKA: Neuroplasticity.
2006- Dr. Michael Hayden stops a mutant gene associated with Huntington disease (HD) from being split apart and, by doing so, prevents the degenerative symptoms normally created by HD.
2007- A research team led by Dr. Alexandre Prat uncovers a mechanism used by white blood cells to attack the brain and the spinal cord in people with multiple sclerosis.
2007-Dr. Freda Miller and her colleagues use skin-derived stem cells to repair spinal cord injuries in rats.
2008- Dr. Stephen Barr identifies a gene that blocks HIV from multiplying or spreading, raising the possibility of new treatments to prevent the onset of AIDS.
On record, Canada has made many contributions in improving health care and treating injury and illness in Canada and around the world. I look forward in seeing future progress in all aspects of healthcare and life in Canada. Let’s be proud in celebrating Canada’s Birthday this year.
Happy Birthday Canada!!!